Grantee Cohort Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021
Location New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
Topeka Sam founded the The Ladies of Hope Ministries’ (LOHM) in 2017 with the ultimate goal of ending the incarceration of women and girls. The organization pursues five key programs: the Reentry Readiness Program, Hope House, Faces of Women Imprisoned, the Angel Food Delivery Project, and the Parole and Probation Accountability Project. LOHM’s mission is to help disenfranchised and marginalized women and girls transition back into society through access to high-quality resources such as education, entrepreneurship, spiritual empowerment, advocacy and housing.
LOHM will further its work to end poverty and incarceration for women and girls in three ways with its Spring 2021 Art for Justice grant. First, it will expand the reach and sustainability of the core Angel Food Delivery Project model, which addresses food insecurity for people returning home from prison and jail. Second, it will enhance the Faces of Women Imprisoned and Global Speakers Bureau by adding dedicated booking support for the #RewritingHerStory project. And third, it will deepen its policy advocacy work through EPIC Ambassadors, working as legislative advocates and lobbyists to transform harmful criminal justice policies.
Since becoming an Art for Justice grantee partner in 2018, Ladies of Hope Ministries has formalized its infrastructure and grown its Faces of Women Imprisoned into a thriving entrepreneurial network of professionally trained public speakers. It also opened multiple Hope Houses, with regional hubs in New York/New Jersey, New Orleans, Baltimore, Atlanta and Chicago.
During the previous grant period, LOHM completed an organizational strategic planning project and has made real strides in refining and expanding its services and advocacy. As a result, its work is divided into sustainability (i.e., Hope House, Angel Food Delivery Project, Pathways 4 Equity job program) and advocacy and engagement (i.e., EPIC Ambassadors legislative/policy advocacy and Faces of Women Imprisoned public speaking training, narrative change, global speakers’ bureau).
In summer 2020, the organization established Hope House NOLA in New Orleans, strengthening a partnership with Art for Justice grantee partner Operation Restoration in Louisiana. In November 2020, the United Nations appointed Topeka as the Goodwill Ambassador for Social Justice (Incarceration Reform) of the Global Festival of Creative Economy. In December, she was granted a full presidential pardon in recognition of her work as a powerful advocate for criminal justice reform and dedication to helping other women in need turn from a path of despair toward a path of redemption.