Project Give Back to Community, Inc., is a non-profit organization based in Richmond, Virginia, that serves as a platform for prisoners, former prisoners, and citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia to give back and contribute positively to their community. We are a public charity and, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
Our Mission primarily is to help promote public safety through implementation of myriad actions and projects in the community. One of our projects to promote public safety is the communication of anti-crime messages by prisoners via radio public service announcements (PSAs), with the hope that anyone listening who is prone to criminal acts may be dissuaded by the dire warnings coming from those prisoners. Examples of these PSAs are featured on this website (see the PSAs tab). Another project of major importance that helps to promote public safety is "The Village Initiative" through which we help create small units of violence-free communities in areas where violence is prevalent. Those communities, called villages, are nurtured to bring about unity and a sense of togetherness among the residents. A united community becomes one where all lives in the community and beyond are seen and treated as sacred by the residents. Moreover, the children in those villages are able to grow in a peaceful environment that supports their educational advancement and mental and emotional well-being.
Our secondary mission is to help provide relief for the poor and the economically disadvantaged members of the community, including the men and women returning from prison, through the provision of affordable housing and shelters. One initiative that falls under this category is our Job-On-Wheels Initiative which provides a mobile office and information center that facilitates employment of the poor and economically disadvantaged members of the community.
On this platform we dream big dreams. Dreams that promote peace, safety, and security in the Commonwealth of Virginia; dreams of a community that is free of substance abuse; dreams of united families, dreams that change gangs of violence into gangs of peace and law-abiding citizens; dreams of an economically buoyant community; dreams of a world without incarcerated children; dreams of a justice system that is fair to the poor, just to all, and color blind.
Oludare Ogunde, Founder & President
Our founder, Oludare Ogunde, is a community activist, a graduate of the University of Lagos, Nigeria (B.Sc), a legislative advocate, and a business man. He brings to bear on this platform his life experiences and many years of direct interactions with thousands of prisoners in Virginia. In 2004 he founded from behind the walls Prisoners and Families for Equal Rights and Justice, Inc. (PAFERJ) as a platform to advocate for justice and equal rights for prisoners and their families. That organization successfully launched a campaign and rallied at the Capitol Square in Richmond in September 2004 for the fair review of parole eligibility by the Virginia Parole Board. This effort was instrumental in the passage of legislation that improved transparency in the Parole Board's decision-making process. Oludare's unique life experiences engender the innovations that are the initiatives implemented on this platform. He is a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform, anti-poverty initiatives, restoration of rights for ex-offenders, rehabilitation of offenders, and reentry initiatives for offenders. He is a statewide volunteer for the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Clovia Lawrence, Executive Director & Co-founder
Our co-founder Clovia Lawrence, a Richmond native, holds a B. A. degree in broadcasting and journalism from Virginia Union University. As a seasoned and influential media professional for over 30 years, she has used her voice, passion, and relationships to become a renowned advocate for criminal justice reform. Clovia is the founder and CEO of Rolling for Freedom (R4F), a platform under which she vigorously engages in voter registration and education, in community building, and in the empowerment of returning ex-offenders. Established in 2004, R4F was summoned to collaborate with the gubernatorial administrations of Warner, Kaine, McDonnell and McAuliffe to help increase voter registration and help guide and promote the arduous task of restoring the rights of thousands of ex-offenders. Since then R4F has successfully helped over 42,000 ex-offenders to restore their rights in Virginia.
Under Clovia’s leadership, R4F spearheaded a long-term aggressive campaign to fortify the lives of our returning citizens-- all in keeping with President Obama’s commitment to criminal justice reform across our nation. She developed and implemented an innovative multi-level strategy designed to increase employment opportunities for ex-offenders and streamline transitional resources in the Richmond area.
In 2007, Clovia created and produced “Wisdom from Behind the Walls,” a live men’s forum heard by over 100,000 listeners in the tri-city area. This event was the first ever recorded event that chronicled the lives of inmates at the jail and allowed them to share cautionary wisdom to the listening audience. From 2008 to present, Clovia has consistently been featured in the media as an expert on criminal justice reform issues. She has served recently on the City of Richmond's Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission, where she brought to light the needs of ex-offenders and our returning citizens. R4F currently sits as community liaison for Kingdom Life Ministries, Virginia Department of Corrections, as well as the Richmond City Justice Center where she visits offenders and provides them with resources concerning transitional housing, voter registration, restoration of rights, job skills, mentoring opportunities, proper etiquettes/dressing for success, anger management, and conflict resolution workshops, thus exposing hundreds of inmates to options designed to increase their employability and decrease recidivism. Since 2009, she has been the principal planner and host of the Richmond City Jail’s nationally acclaimed annual “Date with Dad” weekend function. This function affords the non-violent offenders at the jail the opportunity to interact and celebrate with their daughters, keeping in step with the national Fatherhood Initiative geared to promote parental bond.
In 2015, collaborating with the Richmond Police Department, Carol’s Clothes Closet, Richmond Parks and Recreation Community facilities, R4F hosted community job fairs throughout the region for the general public, with a special focus on hiring the disenfranchised and underemployed and offering a “second chance” at a new start to our returning citizens. R4F’s holistic approach to solving the problems in the community has been recognized by four governors and the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office as impactful and the most successful empowerment campaign to date.
Ever the visionary, Clovia honorably serves as the “spokesmom” for Smart Beginnings RVA, an organization that emphasizes the importance of kindergarten registration for early literacy immersion. She hosted their 9th Annual ALB Child Safety Foundation “Send-A-Kid-To-Camp” Radiothon that raised funds to get kids to summer camp and off the streets.
Finally, as a co-founder and the Executive Director of Project Give Back to Community, Clovia has been instrumental in the implementation of innovative initiatives that are geared to promoting public safety. In collaboration with the Virginia Department of Corrections, she and her team visited selected prisoners and recorded a series of anti-crime public service announcements in 2015 that are now played on the radio and featured on NBC 12. Under the banner of Project Give Back to Community, she is also leading the soon-to-be-implemented Jobs-On-Wheels initiative and The Village Initiative, both of which will further the organization’s mission to promote public safety and provide relief for the poor and economically disadvantaged members of the community.
Rashid Al-Amin, Secretary
Rashid Al-Amin is an activist, a visionary, and a poet who brings to the table many qualities, including, but not limited to, his years of experience with the gamut of offenders in the Virginia Department of Corrections. He was instrumental in bringing about some positive changes that affected the religious rights of Virginia prisoners during his period behind the walls. He served with distinction as the secretary of Prisoners and Families for Equal Rights and Justice, Inc. (PAFERJ), and he served as the publisher and editor of The Voice Behind the Walls, an independent prison newsletter that advocated for equal rights and justice for the incarcerated.
Jerry D. Lee, Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor
Jerry Lee is a certified drug and alcohol counselor, a passionate motivational speaker, an experienced peer mentor, and a staunch advocate for a drug-free community. He was recently a keynote speaker on the subject of heroin addiction and epidemic before a distinguished body of academics and professionals at Yale University. Jerry has moderated a variety of online and barber-shop-talk forums that focuses on the issue of heroin addiction and epidemic in the minority community. He has passion and desire to use his personal experience in substance abuse and mental health matters to help the men, women, and youth in our community who need counseling, interventions, and compassionate advocacy. He is also a statewide volunteer for the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Collaboration With Virginia Department of Corrections
The recording of the PSAs delivered by the prisoners would not have been possible without the support of the Virginia Department of Corrections. We consider ourselves lucky in Virginia to have Director Harold Clarke, a visionary and innovative leader, at the helm of affairs at the Virginia Department of Corrections. We salute him and his staff for making possible the implementation of this worthy project. You can learn more about the resources available at the Virginia Department of Corrections here
Our Sponsors and Supporters include:
We thank the Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia for providing financial support that allowed us to visit the prisoners who participated in the public service announcements. Our thanks also go to Levar Stoney, former Secretary of the Commonwealth, Michelle Mosby, President of the Richmond City Council, and Chaplain Brenda Braam of Haynesville Correctional Center for their staunch support.