Changemakers in Action

We can all help tackle society’s biggest problems if we first Believe in People. Read on to learn more about the people and organizations that inspired our book. 

Eat. Drink.
Change lives.

Read the story of how Dallas-area juveniles, employed at an upscale restaurant, found a deeper sense of purpose.

Breaking through barriers

Find out how Youth Entrepreneurs is working to help teachers and students uncover their passion.

Rise to recover. Recover to live.

Find out how The Phoenix is helping people combat addiction through an active lifestyle.

A second chance at life.

After serving two decades in prison, Alice Marie Johnson turned her life around for the betterment of others. Discover her path to a purposeful life.

Teaching skills for jobs — and skills for life.

For over 30 years Cara has offered job training that beats the national average for placement. Their secret? Empowerment from day one.

Empowering families to rise out of poverty.

What happens when families are connected and empowered? Find out how the Family Independence Initiative works.

A barber builds a movement.

William Burt wanted to help his community – but faced a challenge he didn’t expect. Find out how he overcame it.

Rival gangs, united for change.

Putting aside differences, Antong Lucky brought together warring gangs and carved a path to the future. Watch his story to find out how.

Get more inspiring changemaker stories

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Cafe Momentum

Eat. Drink. Change lives.

Café Momentum, a Stand Together partner, has been changing lives since it was founded by its award-winning executive chef, Chad Houser, in 2015. Staff at this top-rated restaurant is made up mainly of kids coming out of Dallas-area juvenile detention centers, who take year-long paid internships at the restaurant after their release and learn job and life skills, along with a little culinary wizardry. For Café Momentum and Chad, it’s about empowering kids to prepare for adulthood and discovering their unique gifts. “I can’t think of a more worthwhile thing to be a part of right now,” he says. 

Read more to find out more about what’s behind the secret sauce at Cafe Momentum.

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Youth Entrepreneurs

Helping teachers and students uncover their passion.

Youth Entrepreneurs, a national nonprofit, helps high-school students learn to pursue their interests in business while empowering teachers to make learning an exciting experience instead of a chore. Nearly 100 percent of the program’s students will graduate from high school, and 61 percent of YE’s 30,000 alumni have graduated from college, compared with the national average of 40 percent. It’just one of the dozens of organizations partnering with the Stand Together community on K-12 education, helping 80,000 teachers unlock their students’ potential. It just goes to show that everyone, no matter their background or bank account, has a unique gift – it’s just a matter of giving them the tools to find and use it. As one participant put it: “I found my confidence in myself and the ability to make products that people value.” 

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The Phoenix

Rise to recover. Recover to live.

Millions of Americans suffer from a substance use disorder, but not many have access to the right care. Many rehabilitation and treatment programs serve as triage services in great times of need but fall short in establishing healthy behaviors and patterns for long-term sobriety. One proven solution: The Phoenix, a Stand Together partner that provides a supportive, physically active community for individuals recovering from alcohol and substance abuse disorders, and who are choosing to live a sober life. Through physical and social pursuitsthey empower members to develop the emotional strength needed to stay sober, while also building a support network to ensure a sustainable recovery. The Phoenix believes in people – and they, in turn, start believing in themselves. “The power of fitness and a supportive community helped transform my life,” says the Phoenix’s founder, Scott Strode. “I wanted to empower others to do the same.” 

Click here for more stories of success with sobriety. 

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Alice Marie Johnson

From a Life Sentence to a Second Chance at Life

Alice Marie Johnson served 21 years in prison for nonviolent drug trafficking in Tennessee and was sentenced to life plus 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole. After her sentence was commuted in 2018, Alice partnered with Stand Together Senior Vice President Mark Holden and advocated for the successful passage of the bipartisan First Step Act – and she’s just getting started. Now an ordained minister, mother, and great-grandmother, Alice is a powerful voice for uniting to do right and tackling the challenge of criminal justice reform. “Together, we can take the next step,” she says. “And we must.” In this video, hear Alice’s story of how the simple act of believing in people can galvanize hope, activate reform, and improve lives.

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Teaching workers and uplifting lives for years to come

What does it take to empower unemployed individuals to find work and gain the skills to hold a job long-term? Cara, a groundbreaking organization and Stand Together partner, may have found the answer. For nearly 30 years, Cara has offered job training and workplace skills courses to prepare men and women from around Chicago for employment. But what sets this program apart is its focus on helping individuals build self-esteem and its support of participants’ success long after their initial placement. Now, Cara helps create and secure 1,000 jobs each year, and its one-year job retention rate is more than 70 percent — 20 points higher than the national average. “We understand it’s not just about the skills you need to reenter the workforce,” says Maria Kim, Cara’s chief executive. “It’s also about the skills to navigate the noise of life.”  

To find out more about how Cara is transforming lives, click here. 

Family Independence Initiative

Investing in families as they rise out of poverty.

For nearly 20 years, the Family Independence Initiative has understood that families know what they need to climb out of poverty — and sometimes all it takes is someone to recognize their strengths and invest in them. FII uses direct cash investments and a supportive community to help families and individuals with low incomes break the cycle of poverty. Stand Together Foundation and FII have been longtime partners to support, strengthen, and scale community solutions to persistent poverty. But with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, FII and Stand Together recognized they needed to do even more. Through the #GiveTogetherNow campaign, more than 200,000 families received $500 in direct cash payments to use however they saw fit, because FII and Stand Together believe that families know what they need most.

Curious how FII is using big tech to address poverty? Click here to find out more.

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Kut Kings

A Barber Builds Momentum

After he shook free from decades in the criminal justice system, William Burts of Waterloo, Iowa, saw a way to help underserved members of his community: with a mobile barber shop. But he ran into a challenge around his state’s stringent occupational licensing laws. Seeing the potential of his idea, William worked with Americans for Prosperity to break down barriers, help others, and change policy to unleash entrepreneurship and the possibility of people – because often those closest to injustice are the best ones to fight it. Watch his story.

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Antong Lucky

Rival Gangs, United For Change.

What do you get when former gang leaders come together? A pathway to ending gang opposition, promoting peace, and saving younger generations from senseless violence. Watch how Antong Lucky united two rival groups to overcome violence and do right in their communities.

For anyone looking around the country right now and thinking “There has to be a better way,” this book is a guide for you.