Street Certified

As an incarcerated author, activist, and founder of the United Black Family Scholarship Foundation, I cannot begin to express how elated I was to host our first Nonprofit Coaching & Leadership Training event this past February in Oklahoma City. Indeed, it was a very humbling and emotional moment. 

Having built this organization from behind maximum security prison walls has been a challenge, to say the least. Yet sure determination and perseverance prevailed in the face of the fact that for the past six years we have been working diligently to get to this point: launching our first university-sponsored intern program with the University of California, Santa Cruz and providing staff training. 

After years of hard work, on February 29th and March 1st, we were able to fly several volunteers, interns, and our consultant, Glenn E. Martin (in the vest), from California and New York to Oklahoma City, where the event was held at the Wyndham Garden Hotel. 

During the conference, Glenn, who notably has raised over $75 million in the nonprofit sector, provided our team a number of leadership and fundraising tools and a winning strategy to secure funding for our programs. Notably, he emphasized the fact that funders are going to be “floored” that I’ve managed to establish a legitimate 501c3 nonprofit organization from within prison walls. The uniqueness of it alone is what he assures us will get funders’ attention. He’s like “call them on their b.s.!” (I.e., that they claim to support social justice advocates but have yet to “support someone currently incarcerated who is closest to the problem, and has intimate insight on the solutions.”).

We were also honored to have as a guest Oklahoma Senator Connie Johnson (in red) and her team.  It was definitely a blast and an excellent networking opportunity for us all. 

Despite the fact of not being able to personally attend due to my incarceration, looking at the below pictures were awarding enough for me and my fellow prisoners. Without question, they gave us a sense of hope knowing that there are definitely more things to come: hint… we look forward to the day PBS airs our journey, which our newest board recruit and media consultant Cedric O’Bannon is currently documenting as part of a documentary feature chronicling our amazing stories building the UBFSF. 

Lastly, I’ma very humbled at having recently received an acknowledgment from UCSC Professor Megan McDrew for the work I’ve managed to accomplish. That she and others have entrusted me with so much, speaks volumes about the general misconceptions of incarcerated persons and our ability to effect change in our communities. Trust I do not take any of this for granted.

In solidarity,
Ivan Kilgore, 
UBFSF founder

Check out “The Zo” an animation film short produced by the Marshall Project based in part on my writings and concept about prison which has been illustrated by international sensation Molly Crabapple and Emmy nominated film producer Jeff Seelbach.

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