Nation’s Largest Outreach to Prisoners Expands Leadership Training Program

Prison Fellowship and World Impact Partnership Equips Prisoners to Help Transform Inner Cities after Incarceration

Every year California state prisons release thousands of prisoners, most of whom return to the state's inner cities, where poverty and crime walk hand in hand. Today, Prison Fellowship, the nation's largest outreach to prisoners, and World Impact, a Christian missions organization committed to serving the urban poor, announce the expansion of their leadership training program for prisoners.

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES: Speak with graduates of the program who are now law-abiding members of their communities and full-time employees or college students. Interviews with Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske and World Impact President Keith Phillips are also available. Contact Michelle Farmer at 770.813.0000 or 770.757.4900 mobile.

The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) program operates seven classes in five California prisons and involves 218 state prisoners. Under an agreement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the privately funded, voluntary program, which prepares prisoners to be spiritual leaders who help transform the urban areas to which they will return, will expand to 32 classes in prisons across the state over the next 24 months. This expansion will bring the four-year, 16-course TUMI program and its seminary-level training curriculum to an additional 960 inmates.

"The culture inside prison can tend to be violent," said Domingo Uribe, warden of Centinela State Prison. "I have more than 40 inmates in The Urban Ministry Institute who are learning to become leaders and as a result have remained disciplinary free for a year and a half. The attitude change and new life direction these inmates have received from TUMI are helping to change the culture within the prison yard. I know there are populations in every prison facility that would benefit from this program."

Prison Fellowship and World Impact began their collaboration in California prisons in 2006 and have since established the TUMI program in two prisons in Florida and one in Michigan. Ten California prisoners have graduated from TUMI and have successfully reintegrated into urban communities—some serving as pastors or other church leaders.

The Urban Ministry Institute has been heralded by prison officials and inner-city pastors for the positive impact it has had both inside prison walls and in urban communities.

"For more than a decade TUMI has trained urban pastors for effective ministry," said Bishop George McKinney, Pastor of St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church of God in Christ of San Diego. "I am excited to be part of multiplying this exciting work in the prisons, believing that God will transform thousands of prisoners into pastors. I will welcome them back into the city as co-laborers."

"I have seen the effectiveness of TUMI over the past 15 years," said Dr. Jack Hayford, founder and president of The King's University in Van Nuys and a World Impact board member. "I've witnessed former thieves and drug dealers go through this program and become totally different people, completely turning their lives around. I fully expect when TUMI graduates leave prison they will become contributing members of their communities - and our communities will be safer for it."

Because World Impact offers satellite programs outside of prisons, program participants who are released from incarceration prior to graduation can complete their coursework outside prison walls.

"Prison Fellowship has demonstrated expertise in preparing inmates to become hard-working members of their communities and families," said Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske. "It makes sense that we would partner with World Impact, which has a proven curriculum that equips leaders to serve America’s inner cities."