I believe in second chances and so does Color Codes Foundation.
While Create To Donate’s recent posts have mostly focused on cancer, preemie, and foster care-related projects, providing resources and support to currently or formerly incarcerated women has always been on my “to do” list.
Years ago, I was involved in efforts to educate and provide resources to people protesting who may be arrested in the process and I co-authored and created the In Case Of My Arrest form and its associated website (now offline).
That form was created in 2015, though, and what I knew about the justice system, bail reform, and people in prison then has changed a lot in a short amount of time.
So I did some quick research about women in prison so that I could start educating myself again with current-day information.
One of the most telling statistics was via the The Sentencing Project:
Over the past quarter century, there has been a profound change in the involvement of women
within the criminal justice system.
This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women.
The female incarcerated population stands nearly five times higher than in 1980. Over half (58%) of imprisoned women in state prisons have a child under the age of 18.Source: The Sentencing Project: Incarcerated Women and Girls
But even knowing (and understanding) the seriousness of this issue, it’s not always easy to find ways to support women who are or have been incarcerated that don’t require extensive training and time commitments.
This is why I was super excited to receive a request for support from April Bradley, the Founder of Color Codes Foundation.
An Interview With The Founder Of Color Codes Foundation
The mission of Color Codes Foundation is to, “empower and encourage underprivileged women and girls all over the world.”
But there is more to it, of course, so I interviewed the founder of Color Codes Foundation to learn more about its origin and what it’s doing to support a specific group of women in Texas.
Please note: The interview has been edited for clarity where appropriate.
Create To Donate: Why did you start the Color Codes Foundation?
April (Founder, Color Codes Foundation): I have always been an advocate for the advancement of women and girls.
It was through a project that I completed back in college that allowed me the opportunity to visit women’s prisons to conduct creative writing workshops for women behind bars.
Based on my understanding of their needs and the urgency to help them with guidance during the re-entry process, it was simple and really the driving force behind the creation of the Color Codes Foundation.
Create To Donate: What special services or programs does your organization provide?
April (Founder, Color Codes Foundation): Our primary focus is our Second Chance Business Academy where we host a number of workshops like mathematical reasoning for preparation of the GED certification, creative writing, and resume building for job readiness.
Finally, [we offer] a financial literacy workshop for financial understanding and growth. This workshop helps with sustainability and money management.
We also have the Sister Bonds Mentorship Program where we mentor women leaving prison.
We provide the guidance needed during the re-entry process to help navigate the nuances of finding housing, jobs, and getting acclimated back into society.
Create To Donate: Are there specific challenges for incarcerated women in Texas that are different from other cities/states in the US?
April (Founder, Color Codes Foundation): Texas, like so many other states, faces specific challenges when it comes to women.
Texas has a larger justice-impacted community across all genders which face challenges of little to no re-entry solutions and specifically overcrowding.
Create To Donate: What additional information about incarcerated women in Texas can you share to help my readers understand why supporting them is essential to a healthy community over time?
April (Founder, Color Codes Foundation): There are a number of critical topics that can be viewed as urgent matters. Three in particular are: parole, record clearing, and emergency planning.
There is a need for parole reform to help address escalating health care costs. This is primarily driven by the increased length in sentences and also the prison population is aging.
Texas law has adopted a process called “nondisclosure”.
This allows the sealing of some criminal records, but the eligibility is very limited.
As you are aware, in most cases you are limited in job opportunities, housing opportunities, etc with exposure of [one’s] criminal past.
Emergency planning has been at the top of several organizations’ to do list.
Most prisons don’t have emergency planning in place in the event of natural disasters or unforeseen catastrophic events.
This is critical when trying to shuffle thousands of individuals around during an emergency.
Literacy and Daily Living Skills
On top of all of the above, let’s consider the literacy rate and individuals not having the skill sets needed to sustain healthy lively hoods toppled with the mental health issues that some of these women are suffering.
Most of the above only scratch the surface when addressing the challenges women in this environment. especially if a woman is separated from her children who were then placed in foster care.
How Can I Help Color Codes Foundation?
While Color Codes Foundation welcomes many forms of support, they have an immediate need that is perfect for Create To Donate readers.
They need you…to make and donate handmade Mother’s Day cards!
In fact, they have a bodacious goal for this year’s Mother’s Day event. They want to mail approximately 1,000 cards to incarcerated women in the Texas area.
What Kinds Of Cards Should I Make?
As you might expect, anything that is sent to a prison has very specific requirements.
Adhering to these requirements is essential because handmade cards that do not meet the stated criteria will not make it past the screening process.
Handmade cards must conform to the following rules:
- Cards should not have glitter, gems, or ANY adornment.
- Cards may not include pop-ups or pop-outs,
- The design and verbiage must be in good taste.
So, when it comes to creating the handmade cards, construction paper or printer paper and markers or crayons are a safe bet.
This is also a good time to break out your stamp set and colorful ink pads!
If you are choosing to do something freehand, why not have some fun making an elaborate and colorful doodle, drawing different sized polka dots, or just drawing a simple flower bouquet?
Anything goes, really, as long as it’s tasteful.
Oh! And please make sure the outside includes the phrase “Happy Mother’s Day!” or something like it.
What Information Can I Include Inside the Card?
As you might expect, the inside of the card should also be simple and straightforward.
My recommendation is that you include a positive mantra or affirmation.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- You are awesome.
- You are loved.
- You are special.
- You are beautiful.
Please note: You should never include any detailed personal information anywhere on the card.
You can, however, sign the inside with a simple “A friend from <your city, your state>” or “Someone is thinking of you in <your city, your state.”
And every card counts, so even if you just send 3 – 4 cards, that gets them that much closer to their total goal of 1,000.
Where Should I Send My Handmade Cards?
Please mail cards to Color Codes Foundation at the address listed below.
When April and her team receive the cards, they will add specific identification information for each young lady based on a list received from each facility.
This year April is working with a group of volunteers to prepare the cards for mailing and they will sign them for you if you choose not to add a generic signature.
To get everything ready and sent to the prison within the required time frame, Color Codes Foundation must receive all Mother’s Day card donations by April 5, 2023.
Make It A Special Mother’s Day For A Woman In Need
Color Codes Foundation has carved out its focus to assist this community of women in need.
Making and donating handmade Mother’s Day cards is an easy way to contribute to their efforts and brighten someone’s Mother’s Day this year.