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Regenerating Lives Through Human-Centric Reentry Programs


The Fountain Fund: Transforming Lives Through Second Chances and Community Support


In the heart of Virginia, the Fountain Fund is revolutionizing how we think about life after incarceration. This isn't just about offering a second chance; it's a profound journey of regeneration, where individuals can rewrite their stories and reclaim their societal places through a proactive and practical reentry program.


Martize Tolbert of the nonprofit, The Fountain Fund, sits at his desk.
A still from the film "Fueling Fresh Starts: The Fountain Fund" produced by Thriving Communities. Pictured: Martize Tolbert

The Fountain Fund's approach is grounded in a simple but powerful philosophy: "We treat people like people," says Martize "Tez" Tolbert, the organization's national director. We bring the human element back and we like to meet people where they're at."


Tez knows firsthand the transformative power of second chances. "My rock bottom was my mother," he shares. "When she passed, she saw nothing but greatness in me... she always saw something bigger than myself, bigger than my circumstances." This unwavering belief in his potential, even in the face of adversity, laid the foundation for Tez's transformation journey.


As a leader at the Fountain Fund, Tez is paying it forward, offering tangible support and resources to help formerly incarcerated individuals rebuild their lives. "There's not too many things that are different from us," he says. "I put one leg in the pants just like you do, brother. So when you have that dynamic mutuality conversation, and you show them, not just talking to them, but actually showing them tangible outcomes and measurements, and let them know, listen, I'm supporting you... And then you show him that."


This commitment to meeting people where they're at led Tez to create the innovative "one stop shop" model, a centralized hub offering a wide range of services and resources. "Why is it not the same for reentry?" he asks. "Somebody might live in an inner city, or they might not. They might live in a rural area where they don't have any transportation, any bus line, or any way of getting to their appointments on time. So that's when I created the One Stop Shop."


Tez offers this advice for those facing significant life challenges: "Stop, think before you proceed. Trust the resources, trust the information, verify the information as well. And it's not gonna be easy. But sometimes the first step is the scariest one, and that's really believing in yourself and wanting to do right."


Ultimately, the work of the Fountain Fund is about more than just individual transformation - it's about strengthening entire communities. As Tez puts it, "If you know me, you know my motto has always been community work is the best work. Wherever you're listening from out there in the world, try your best to do something today that will help your community tomorrow."


Through their holistic approach, unwavering commitment to second chances, and deep belief in the power of community, the Fountain Fund proves that change is possible and that every individual has the potential for growth and renewal. As we look to the future, their work stands as a powerful reminder of the capacity for transformation that lies within us all.


Learn more about the Fountain Fund.

Listen to the podcast.

Watch the film.

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