Latest from Lionheart


Lionheart’s Prison Project

Prisoners in Solitary

  • 415 prisoners in solitary confinement/ segregation in CA state prisons are participating in the Houses of Healing 14-session Self-study Program. Initial evaluations are extremely promising.
  • 174 prisoners nationwide, almost all of whom are in solitary, are matched with 118 Lionheart volunteers for the Houses of Healing Correspondence Course.  (Many volunteers correspond with more than one prisoner.)

Tablet Based Learning in Prisons and Detention Facilities

  • Lionheart’s is working with two cutting-edge companies who are providing our programs through a Tablet-based Learning Technology in prisons and youth detention facilities.
  • Lionheart supports, with encouragement and donated resources, an increasing number of prisoner-facilitated Houses of Healing Programs in CA, GA, and MI.

Lionheart’s Youth Projects

  • NEW: Lionheart publishes the POWER SOURCE Workbook in January 2017
  • The PS Workbook delivers high-impact, engaging, evidence-based, social-emotional programming for high-risk youth.
  • NEW: Lionheart is piloting EQ2: The Emotion Coaching Handbook with direct care staff at St. Mary’s, a Teen Parenting Program in Boston (residence for teen moms and their babies). (Pub. date June 2017.)  (The emotional intelligence of the staff plus the emotional intelligence of the youth = EQ2)
  • Dr. Beth Casarjian, Lionheart’s Clinical Director of Youth Projects just presented EQ2 at the Healthy Teen Network annual conference in Las Vegas. (HTN is the premier national organization addressing teen pregnancy and parenting.)

Matching Gift Challenge:  Lionheart was just offered a $40,000 matching gift. We must raise this amount by February 1, 2017.  Please help us reach this goal.   To Donate Click Here.  Thank you!

To read more about Lionheart News & Updates, see the Lionheart Fall Update letter below.


LIonheart Logo

November 4, 2016

Dear  Friends,

I am so grateful to have this opportunity to share Lionheart’s progress with you once again. Thank you for the gift of your time and interest.

There is a lot to share. The Houses of Healing Self-Study Course is proving to be a great success with more than 400 prisoners in solitary confinement in the CA state prison system participating – while registrations continue to come in.  We are in the final stage of design and almost ready to go to press with the Power Source Workbook and there has already been strong interest from professionals serving youth. A few weeks ago we had a meeting with the Assistant Superintendent of Social-Emotional Learning for the Boston Public Schools. Our goal is to see the Power Source Workbook utilized in public high schools across the country with the Boston Public Schools serving as the launching pad. If the superintendent’s enthusiasm was any indication, we are on our way. And, as you will read, other projects are flourishing.

Because of your generosity, the emotional healing and life skills that are essential to successfully function in the world continue to reach thousands of prisoners, at-risk youth and teen parents.  Many incarcerated adults and at-risk youth are fundamentally transformed and proceed on a positive life trajectory.  We are making this difference together. Thank you a million times over!

Recently we successfully completed the 13-week HOH course in the chapel.  We literally smuggled in rehabilitation, and by doing so, loudly demonstrated that this miserable yard could be changed. Hope was demanded into existence here, and that was thanks to your course. There was nothing but dust here, but the spark from Houses of Healing caused life to revive. This course is simple, and its effects are astounding.       Alex, Houses of Healing Inmate Facilitator.  CA State Prison

I been locked up in the jtc  [juvenile treatment center] for 4 months. First I was really going crazy but the book Power Source helped me really think about things. I use to use drugs but now your book is like my new drug.  I use to want to be with gangs but I learned my lesson and I just want to say how much your book makes me look at the world in a different way.      Matt, Muskegon, MI

The HOUSES OF HEALING Prison Program (HOH)

HOH Self-study Program in Solitary Confinement / SHUs (Special Housing Units):

The Houses of Healing Self-study program for prisoners in solitary confinement, largely funded through the “Innovative Grants Program” within the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is well underway.  If the number of registrants is an indication of success (and that’s almost all we have at the moment as evaluations are just starting to come in), it has been a resounding success. Lionheart anticipated and budgeted for 50 inmates per prison while 208 registered from Pelican Bay State Prison alone!  We weren’t willing to exclude any prisoner in solitary who was motivated to participate – thus we are currently providing the course to more than 400 inmates (at 3 different prisons). 400+ pieces of mail go out our door each week as prisoners receive one of 14 weekly assignments along with a strong dose of encouragement. Lionheart is able to do this with the generosity of volunteers who spend many hours a week in the Lionheart office stuffing and sealing envelopes and applying postage and labels in order to keep on schedule with program delivery.

Although not solicited, one prisoner from Pelican Bay, just four weeks into the course, wrote:

So far this course has been more than helpful in regard to the opportunity it has provided me to curb some of the anger issues I’ve constantly been plagued with. It has also offered me a wonderful new perspective to try and see the world from. Not only am I noticing a mental and physical healing, but a spiritual one as well. I can tell I’ve a long ways to go in this healing process but I can’t help but to think that “Houses of Healing” is one enormous step in the right direction. I am very grateful to those who’ve afforded me this opportunity to change my life.                                                                            John, SHU – Pelican Bay

Expanding the Scope of Delivery in Solitary:  Nationally, more than 70,000 prisoners are being held in this “restrictive housing.” Length of stay ranges from days to decades. And whatever the label (solitary/SHU/Segregation/ restrictive housing), the experience for the person is the same —confinement in a small isolated cell (cage) (about 80 sq. ft.– smaller than a typical horse stable), for an average of 23 hours a day with limited human interaction and little constructive activity. Starting early 2017, and for years to come, Lionheart will promote the “Self-study course for prisoners in solitary” to prisons nationwide. It would be prohibitive (both financially and administratively) for Lionheart to deliver the program to individual inmates on a national scale however we are going to encourage chaplains and mental health staff to deliver the program within their institution.  Lionheart will offer an electronic version of the 14-session course, free of charge, for prison staff to photocopy and deliver along with a start-up set of HOH books. We hope that many staff will take us up on this offer. And, even though grant funding for the Self-study program will end in the Spring, Lionheart is committed to delivering the Self-study in these CA prisons for at least the next three years.

 HOH Correspondence Course for Prisoners in Solitary:   In addition to the HOH Self-study Course for prisoners in solitary (which can be scaled to serve several hundred prisoners), Lionheart offers the HOH Correspondence Course (CC) for prisoners in solitary. Prisoners are matched on a one-on-one basis with a volunteer facilitator.  The number of volunteers and prisoners continues to grow – but we are reaching our limit in regard to managing the CC administratively as all prisoner mail is processed through Lionheart. Currently 118 volunteer facilitators are matched with 174 prisoners. (Many volunteers correspond with more than one prisoner.) The CC has been a rich learning experience for volunteers and prisoners alike.

…This experience has made me realize that I held a stereotype about people who are incarcerated that is not reality..  My correspondent was articulate and thoughtful.  He wrestles with many of the same things that we all do, but in a much more stressful situation. I now see prisoners as individuals, not as one faceless group.                                    Volunteer Facilitator

I’ve just completed my first session and can already tell the course is sure to bring light to the path I’ve been trying to find forever.                                                   Roberto.   Pelican Bay – SHU

Tablet-based Learning: Furthering the Reach of Lionheart’s Programs:    Since our last update, Lionheart has contracted with American Prison Data Systems (ADPS) (NYC) and Edovo (Chicago), companies that make tablet-based education and rehabilitation systems available within prisons, jails and youth facilities. We strongly believe that these companies are committed to uplifting and furthering the well-being of the populations Lionheart serves. This is a great opportunity to be able to offer Houses of Healing and Power Source in the form of a “Content Management System (CMS).”  In these CMSs the program is delivered on a tablet and is programmed so that the adult prisoners or youth read specific pages from the book, view accompanying videos, and work on relevant worksheets in a cohesive, programmed manner. Tablets are increasingly utilized in education and we are pleased to be on the cutting edge of this offering within criminal justice.

Prisoner-facilitated House of Healing Programs:  Lionheart continues to support prisoner-facilitated programs with encouragement and donated resources. It is clear from the evaluations we receive that the prisoner-facilitators do an outstanding job as these are mature, motivated individuals who have already intensively engaged with the Houses of Healing program and who have the full support of the prison administration to conduct the program. We have found this is particularly true in CA, GA, and MI. Some states waste this precious resource and do not allow even long-term prisoners to facilitate programs. Not only do the prisoner-facilitators create an opportunity for transformation and healing for the students in their groups, but they themselves are transformed and discover meaning and purpose in their lives in the process.

Facilitating HOH is a way for me to stay focused and on a positive path. It gives me direction so I feel as if I have a purpose in here to fulfill… Part of atoning for my past is directly tied up with HOH.  Since I have life without parole, facilitating HOH is a way to give back or make amends to society.  Most people I teach are going to get out of prison one day.  My hope is that they learn something that they will take with them to their family and community.  There has been very positive feedback from every group. The effect on participants has been much deeper than I originally envisioned it being.  A lot of people truly want help in dealing with their issues.  They’ve just been looking in the wrong places.         Richard, inmate-facilitator  GA

Participating in Houses of Healing was the single most important decision I would make at the time.  Deciding to learn to facilitate House of Healing was the most important decision of my life.                                                                                                                                             Troy, inmate-facilitator   AL DOC

Lionheart will be applying for another “Innovative Grant” from the CDCR this month. This grant title communicates the intent of the requested funding:  The POWER SOURCE Training: A Program to Prepare Lifers and Long-Termers to Facilitate a High Impact Program for Young Offenders (18-23).  If granted, the key facilitator will be Daniel Silva, a man who served 39 years in prison and who is now teaching HOH and PS in his CA community.  Enclosed is a beautiful op-ed piece by Daniel. It was published in an online news site.

The positive impact and expansion of Houses of Healing programs continues on a sure and steady track.


 Power Source in the Field:  Beth Casarjian, Lionheart’s clinical director of youth projects, is back by popular demand at East Boston High School.  She is now running another group based on the PS Workbook, which provides an engaging, practical, and evidence-based resource to accompany the book, Power Source: Taking Charge of Your Life. School staff have chosen the students most at risk of dropping out or becoming (re)involved in the criminal justice system to attend her classes. The students loved the program she offered during the last academic year.

They expressed their wonderment at why they didn’t learn “this stuff” earlier. Why? Indeed!!

Hi my name is Mac. I like to thank u for the power source book. It helped me become a better man. Im 15 years old and Im at the jtc [juvenile transition center] because of breaking and entering.  All my life I been around drugs and now I sold drugs on the block with the crips and your book convinced me to stop. Now I have a job. Thank u Bethany Casarjian

Power Source Parenting (PSP) Trainings:  In addition to recently delivering two day-long professional PSP trainings, Beth is conducting a weekly PSP group for teen mothers at Ruth House, a residential Teen Parenting Program under the auspices of the MA Department of Children and Families (MA DCF). She will be using this class to train and supervise two graduate students from William James College (formerly the MA School of Professional Psychology) to carry their knowledge of PSP into their careers. This mentoring and supervision of Ph.D. level students will continue throughout the 2016-17 academic year.

On the Cusp of Lionheart’s 25th Anniversary – 2017

 There is much more going on at Lionheart than we can communicate in this letter. We are moving into a transformative time. We have gotten to this point with your generous support and with three full-time staff. We all feel beyond blessed to do what we do – but three full-time staff are no longer equal to the expanding task before us.

Social Emotional Learning is in its infancy and Lionheart is at the top its game in providing exceptional and life-changing resources to the very vulnerable populations whom we serve. Our vision involves a big leap forward, with greater free distribution, more clinical staff to help develop needed resources, a bigger marketing effort to cast a wider net to schools and youth programs across the country, and creative new formats to expand program utilization.

We will soon go back to press with a number of our resources. As we print 5-10,000 books at a time, these are costly printings. We are very grateful to Louise Hay and Reid Tracy from the Hay Foundation who, as with many times before, will donate the first printing of our new resource – 10,000 copies of the Power Source Workbook.

Many of our donors are, like us, getting older (and wiser).  Many of you have generously supported Lionheart’s work for many years and we are eternally grateful. Your donation this year will help us with direct service to our target populations, Lionheart’s operating budget, printing costs, resource development and expanded staffing needs so that we continue to, as Alex so eloquently stated (on the first page), demand hope into existence and foster skills so that those we serve will mature into loving and effective parents, reliable employees, and kind and respectful neighbors. Your generosity to Lionheart will continue to have a huge impact for so many.

Once again, I humbly come to you and request that you give as generously as you can.  You are a truly important part of Lionheart’s future.

I am, as always,

Most sincerely and gratefully yours,