Terrance Coffie is a B.S.W graduate of New York University, social justice advocate, youth activist, and change agent by way of higher education. Terrance is employed as the Computer Lab Manager and College Pathway’s Advisor for The Doe Fund, a transitional work program that assist the homeless and formerly incarcerated to re-establish their lives.
Mr. Coffie has participated in numerous venues such as the New York Re-entry Network’s: Transitional Talk, President Roundtable: Men of Color Student Leadership Institute, Harlem Transformation Project, Vera Institute of Justice Committee and Columbia University’s Transitional Study Committee just to name a few. Mr. Coffie delivers an awe inspiring message exposing his personal life experiences and challenges to engage and connect with disenfranchised men of color on the value of education. His raw and candid style of speaking has inspired countless men who suffered from hopelessness, homelessness and criminal behavior with his inspirational story of redemption, determination, and perseverance. He has also been featured in the Bronx Community College Communicator, New York PIX 11 News and The New York Daily News.
As a formerly incarcerated person and graduate of The Doe Fund, Terrance’s commitment to social justice is from a personal perspective. Inspired by his success at The Doe Fund, Terrance enrolled into Bronx Community College in 2011 where he applied the ethical values of God, hard work and education. During his tenure at Bronx Community College Terrance took an active role in his academic career, he became a member of CUNY’s Black Male Initiative, a program designed to help young men of color succeed academically. He built a stellar academic career earning numerous awards such as: being selected to The Presidents’ Roundtable as a Peer Leader, named a Global Fellow by the International Study Program, Salzburg, Austria, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member, recipient of the Coca Cola and New York State All-Academic Team-Gold Scholar Awards and named the 2014 NYACCE Student of the Year. In May 2014, Terrance graduated Bronx Community College and was offered a scholarship to attend New York University.
As a senior of NYU he was honored with the distinguished 2016 President's Service Award and the Excellence In Leadership Award, for his development of the College Pathways Program, which assist formerly incarcerated men in pursuing higher educational opportunities, just recently his life story was aired “NYU’s American Story.” Terrance will begin graduate school this September, where he will intern at the prestigious McSilver Institute for Research and Poverty. Having seen the cycle of poverty, substance abuse, unemployment, homelessness and incarceration first-hand, Terrance has committed himself to promoting educational and policy reform on a national and international scale. Terrance says “For me education has become a means not only to see the world, but an avenue by which I can carry a message of hope to lives that are sometimes torn by despair.”
Lamont Payton, Mentor
I was born on a warm, sunny day in September in Crisfield, Maryland. Unlike most of my friends I had both my parents, but for all the love I received...the pull of the streets was just stronger.
In school I started hanging out with the wrong people, and before long I was skipping school. I started smoking weed and drinking with my friends. That's what got me evidently by the time I was in my twenties, I was getting a lot of jobs but not keeping any, and you know what they say, if you're not working on something, something will always be working on you.
And that's what happened. I started getting arrested for petty stuff. From 1989 to 2010 I had at least one run in with the law every single year. For 21 years- My family tried to support me through it all.
They would make several interventions in my life through being referred to programs, but I just couldn't see the blessings of these attempts. I was stuck in the fog of addiction until 2010. I'd become a bit of a drug connoisseur by then; I completely spiraled out of control. I had stopped checking in with my family altogether. My family would scan the local papers for unclaimed bodies, thinking that one day I show up.
During my escapade of destruction. I found out that my mom had passed away and that was the turning point in my life. I called my family up and stated to them that I would not come back around until I get my life together. I thought to myself you're 44 years old, and you have nothing. I became sick of all the police contact, all the heartache. The next day I put myself into a dynamic program. From day one of my arrival I was introduced to great people whom were beacons of hope and simple motivators through their actions. I wanted to be like them, calm, cool, collected, and trustworthy. I started to commit to it.
I took advantage of everything I could. I eventually got a job in the food service in the Bronx, however, the company downsized and I was laid off. There was a moment to fall apart, but I didn't. I always wanted to be a Substance Abuse Counselor. So I was connected with a outpatient program for an internship, as an Intake Coordinator.
If there is one piece of advice that I can give you it's- "Sometimes opportunity presents itself as a crisis. " I continue to emulate the concept of leading by example. Everything I advise my clients to do I live by the same principles.
All in all, Stay focused and believe in yourself because you can do it.
Alexander Aiken, Young Men's Mentor
Alexander Aiken graduated from the Doe Fund in 2012; Soon he was offered a position as Housing Specialist/Intake Specialist. Most of his clients have no experience dealing with life on life’s terms. Alexander assists with obtaining credit scores, managing their monies and provide assistance with background checks.
Being able to work with young men has been an honor and privilege for him; it has also been humbling to be entrusted with their most intimate secrets and be able to provide them with information on how to successfully complete the Ready, Willing and Able program. Alexander believes that mentorship has been a crucial part of his life. He believes that mentorship can be provided by many including close family members such as an uncle, aunt or close friend.
Mentorship requires a person with a warm heart, kind soul and sympathetic ear. Alexander continues to be guided by his mentor. In 2013, based on his mentors suggestion he enrolled at Hostos Community College; where he will be graduating in 2017 with a degree in Criminal Justice. This fall he looks enroll at John Jay Community College and further his education in Criminal Justice. Alexander is looking forward to taking taking the LSAT (the Law School Admissions Test) and applying to law schools in New York.
He proudly says that since 2012 every decision he has made has been done in collaboration with his mentor. "I value his advice." Alexander says.
Carlos Jones, Mentor
Carlos Jones is a founding member of The Mend Project, a mentoring organization in its seminal stages geared towards providing services for post incarcerated and at risk individuals. Carlos Jones made his first efforts at peer mentoring while serving time in various institutions where he mentored and advocated for incarcerated individuals that were on their way back into the community.
As a firm believer that re-entry efforts must first begin inside prisons, Carlos Jones hopes to establish his organization as a guide for at-risk and post incarcerated individuals in their journey through life. Mr. Jones has a unique background in criminal justice that has evolved since his first beginnings in his experiences with incarceration, substance abuse in family settings, addiction, post incarceration transitional programs, and now as an advocate for the pre and post incarcerated population.
From mentoring our youth in their encounters with the justice system to motivating individuals to live sober lifestyles after a life of trauma to advocating for the formerly incarcerated.
Carlos uses his life experiences as well his educational background in hopes to make a small difference in the life of those struggling with addiction, trauma, and adjusting to a new journey after prison.
Wendall Haynes, Academic Advisor
Wendell Haynes has excelled in his career within the Cuny Educational System for 15 years. His professional experience began as a HRA Liason, Case Manager & Coordinator. His strong listening skills have allowed him to build a strong bond with his students and he believes that you're only as good as your team; he's a strong believer in teamwork. Wendalls mantra is "Envisioning Tomorrows Sucess Today".
I attribute part of my professional growth to the guidance of a patient mentor. He challenged me to think differently and to open my eyes and mind to different perspectives. While each of us develops at our own pace, it is reasonable to believe that this type of influence is positive for all of us.