One month later, Kelly’s good friend, Calvin Duncan, also won his freedom after serving 28 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Once released, he struggled to find a rental home on account of his felony conviction; but instead of giving up, Calvin took matters into his own hands by quitting the apartment application process and building himself a house instead.

But why stop at building a house? Inspired by creativity and drive, Kelly and Calvin joined forces to build Rising Foundations: an organization that provides tools and opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to start businesses and own homes, bypassing the discrimination that leaves them homeless and unemployed.

Rising Foundations provides pathways to self-sufficiency with an aim to stop the cycle of incarceration in low income communities through a unique workforce development program, where they promote small business development, access to safe and affordable housing and financial security, while rebuilding neighborhoods.

By the end of the year, all of them were earning revenue and creating jobs for other folks coming home. It was decided during that time that their next cohort of small business owners would involve more women who were both formerly incarcerated and currently supporting formerly incarcerated men.

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“We aren’t just out here trying to build strong individuals… we are trying to build strong families and communities,” says Kelly.

Although new and unexpected challenges present themselves with each new client, Kelly wakes up every day grateful for having the opportunity to serve the people of New Orleans. The city often gets labeled as resilient because it survived the floods of Hurricane Katrina, but she labels the people as far more resilient and resistant than that.

“There’s a famous saying about the city that captures the spirit of New Orleanians perfectly: ‘Won’t bow, don’t know how.’”

Serving as a tremendous catalyst of change for numerous formerly incarcerated people to date, Kelly continues to work with Bob and Josh in helping them forge the path towards a positive and prosperous life.

Through its Fellowship program launched in 2012, The Global Good Fund invests in high potential leaders committed to social impact worldwide. It also created the 360 MIRROR – the first evidence-based leadership assessment for social entrepreneurs and CEOs.

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