FLINT, Michigan—A scar runs down Leon El-Alamin’s head, by his ear. It’s a scar from the life he used to live and also a reminder that everyone can build a new life.
El-Alamin is founder and executive director for MADE Institute. He is also a convicted felon. He is the leader he is today not despite his conviction, but because of it.
“We are a living example,” said El-Alamin, as he sits next to Tim Abdul-Matin, a board member, outreach director, and a client of MADE Institute.
Founded two years ago in January 2015, MADE stands for Money, Attiude, Direction, and Education. The institute focuses on providing support to individuals after they are released from prison.
It is about getting a job—and it is about so much more than getting a job.
It is about teaching life skills. It is about teaching how to deal with frustration and anger. It is about finding a place to live. It is about learning how to live again. It is about living differently. It is about building a new life that doesn’t lead back to prison.
Both Flint natives, the two didn’t know each other but began working together because they shared a mutual mentor while in prison. Their unique perspective on rebuilding their own lives is central to the work being done by MADE Institute.
Funded through the Ruth Mott Foundation, their work includes remodeling a duplex to providing transition housing for formerly incarcerated men—as well as an opportunity to earn money during construction.
MADE Institute also provides one-on-one and group mentoring, a care package with basic essentials provided when prisoners are released, experience with urban agriculture and training to be an entrepreneur.
“We are about solving problems. We are agents of change. That’s why we are here,” said El-Alamin.
Tim Abdul-Matin (left) serves as outreach director for MADE Institute. The mentorship provided to formerly incarcerated clients is critical to their future success.