By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A West Philadelphia man who served time in prison has a new lease on life. He recently won a Knight Foundation award for his work inspiring young people.
Inside a fixer-upper building in West Philadelphia, Brandon T. Jones is building a new life. He’s helping people learn how to silkscreen T-shirts with positive messages on them.
“For the brothers and sisters who really can’t find a job, we are trying to show them ways they can go out and make themselves a business,” he explained.
Brandon used to be in the drug business. He served more than four years in prison for shooting a man during a fight. In prison, Brandon met a pastor.
“He’d say, ‘Prison can be a wise man’s university or a fool’s playground. It’s up to you.’ And that’s when I made the choice,” said Brandon.
When he left prison more than a year ago, Brandon started down a new path. He’s working with G-L.A.W. Outertainment and Foundation. G-L.A.W. stands for God’s Love at Work, both a for-profit business and non-profit support for ex-convicts like him.
“Look around. We building it ourselves,” said member Gregg McElveen.
G-L.A.W. has a family-like atmosphere and talks from leader Michael Ta’Bon, who wears a prison-style orange jumpsuit when he speaks.
“For some people I’m a living example,” said Ta’Bon. “For some people I’m a reminder.”
In addition to his work at G-L.A.W., Brandon, 26, recently won a $35,000 Black Male Engagement award from the Knight Foundation for his work with young people, a mission he plans to continue.
“You can tell them all day long, but until you show them you’re living your life in a different and positive direction, they’ll never believe you or follow your lead,” he said.
Black Male Engagement Awards are a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement.