How It Works
The Other Side Academy is a 501(c)(3) public non-profit organization where criminals, homeless, and substance abusers can change their lives, free of charge. Our comprehensive two-year residential program offers vocational training, education, peer counseling and mentoring, leadership training and transitional services.
We are not a “re-hab” in the traditional sense nor are we in any way a residential treatment facility. Our emphasis is not on drugs or alcohol. Rather, we focus on behavior and on learning how to live a life of honesty, empathy, and accountability. We are a peer community for learning life skills.
Participants in our program are called “students” and they represent our society’s most serious social problems—and yet, remarkably, as a group they provide solutions to one another’s challenges. We do not have doctors, clinical therapists, or counselors at The Other Side Academy. We are not a program based on counseling or therapy. Instead, there is no distinction in the backgrounds of leaders and students other than more time and experience living in The Other Side Academy community and influencing others to change their lives. All have been in and out of jail or prison over and over again and ultimately were left without any apparent hope for a decent life.
In other words, the people running The Other Side Academy are men and women are living evidence of the efficacy of the program—and have paid the price of personal change by doing everything new students are asked to do. Thus they have the credibility to show them how to change their life, just like they have.
Two Year Commitment
Qualified students must be willing to make a minimum two-year commitment to a deeply rigorous process of personal change. Many stay longer until they feel ready to re-enter society. Students are responsible not just for their own growth—but take on responsibility for the growth of others. Each step they take empowers them to teach those who are slightly newer than they. Essentially, The Other Side Academy is a big teaching system built around an “each one, teach one” philosophy of caring for and helping one another.
All students apply voluntarily—although many attend as an alternative to incarceration. These plead guilty to outstanding charges before being offered a place to The Other Side – and are required to serve their full sentence if they elect to leave.
The Other Side Academy is free to everyone who is accepted into the program. We do not receive government money and we are mostly self-sufficient, with revenues from our training schools covering most of our program expenses. All that is required of our participants is a strong desire to change and a willingness to do whatever is asked of them to bring about that change. Everyone works together and learns by doing. It’s a physically and mentally demanding environment. During their stay, the students in our program receive an education, acquire marketable vocational and social skills and earn the self-respect necessary to let go of their past. For most, this is the hardest thing they have ever done.