First Followers’ mission is to build strong and peaceful communities by providing support, guidance, and hope to formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones through peer mentorship.
Our organization offers:
A safe stigma free environment
Assistance with employment searches
Workforce development for emerging adults
Advocacy for individuals with felony convictions
Building Community Through Reentry
FirstFollowers began as a drop-in center in 2015. Through the good graces of Bethel AME Church we were provided with office space and facilities to meet with people coming home from prison and assist them in finding housing, employment and reconnecting to the community. Our intention was to both provide services and build an organization of formerly incarcerated people that could become a force for justice in our community. In December of 2015 we registered as a non-profit organization. We work on a peer mentoring model, believing that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.
Since that time we have not only grown in number but in influence as well. You will see us everywhere in our light blue shirts- at city council meetings, in community organizations, on the UIUC Campus, and working to renovate houses for the Housing Authority.
We now run a workforce development program for emerging adults called GoMAD (Make A Difference); a transition house for people coming home from prison, support groups for individuals impacted by violence and incarceration, hosting community events to prevent violence and constantly advocating for the advancement of the rights of those with felony convictions. We are living up to our motto "Building Community Through Reentry."