Oakland “Rites of Passage” Program On a Mission to Help Incarcerated Youth

For more than 25 years, Kelvin Potts has been leading a mission to provide positive lifestyle transformational practices, healing techniques, and rituals to assist in creating healthy environments in our community. Growing up in East Oakland, Mr. Potts knows first-hand how challenging it can be to maintain a healthy lifestyle and provide leadership for the many in need.

Relying on his life experience and his extensive facilitation skills, Mr. Potts founded the non-profit Positive Communication Practices Inc. (PCP) in 2009. The organization develops programs that offer positive lifestyle alternatives to at-risk and marginalized young men. It provides guidance and positive direction while creating a space for sharing and the opportunity for both healing and growth.

Rites of Passage Program

The signature program of PCP is the “Rites of Passage” (ROP) program. ROP engages imprisoned youth through an evidence-based social-emotional curriculum that improves their overall attitudes, deepen their emotional intelligence, and teaches them how to take responsibility for their everyday actions.

This program helps to improve life skills, increase social competence, and teaches young men ways to avoid high-risk behaviors. In addition, it helps to create a new mindset in young men, which triggers the exploration of attitudes and behaviors that guide their positive responses in challenging situations.

“Change your story, change your life,” is Mr. Potts’ mantra. He passionately believes that to transform our lives we must release old thinking—that which no longer serve us. He states, “We must apply techniques to change thinking patterns and write a new story for our lives.”

ROP provides intensive weekly group sessions within the Department of Juvenile Justice during a 14 to 16-week cohort. It offers rituals, traditions, and practices to strip away old habits, thinking and behaviors. Since 2013, over 300 young men have graduated from PCP’s Rites of Passage program in the Maximum-Security Units at Alameda County’s Juvenile Detention Facility and the Division of Juvenile Justice, O.H. CLOSE Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton. 

What ROP Graduates Say:

“The” Rites of Passage” Program is a program that all young men should have the privilege of attending.  If the decision were left up to me, I’d put this program in institutions around the world.  The “Rites of Passage” has enabled me to be of a more conscious mind.  I now think a lot more before I react to things.  Not only that, but I can also now “access” my emotions in a whole new way.  This program has made becoming a man equivalent to becoming rich.  In a way, we do become rich, in mind body and spirit.  Overall, the “Rites of Passage” Program is an essential program for not only learning new ways of becoming a man, but also for the enrichment of one’s mind.”

Jahlil (ROP Unit 4 Graduate, August 2014)

“During the graduation ceremony, I was very nervous.  The next thing I know I was telling everybody about my father’s death, my son, the struggle, and the trauma I have been through.   I looked up to see almost everybody in tears.  I was very proud of myself.”

Marquise H. (ROP 2016)

What the Juvenile Justice Detention Staff has to say:

“Since ROP started, I have personally seen a change and awareness of maturity amongst our you men housed in our Maximum-Security Units 2 & 4. These units house our most serious youth offenders and Adult Remands. They actively participate and are involved in debates, discussions, and solution s regarding making a change in their lives.  I have received nothing but positive feedback from the youth and staff regarding this program.  It is one of the best mentor programs I have seen, and it provides a foundation of confidence and awareness for our young men.

I fully support Mr. Potts team and program and would like to see it become a staple inside our facility.”

Brian Hopson, Assistant Superintendent, Juvenile Hall,

Alameda County Probation Department

You Can Help

As with many programs, the ROP Program has had to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue providing our services, we are hosting virtual meetings. It is vital that these programs continue especially during these extraordinary times. Additionally, Positive Communications Practices Inc. is striving to expand its program and services to include more incarcerated youth. However, we need your help to accomplish this goal. Our imprisoned youth desperately need and deserve a second chance. 

  • To contribute, please visit our GoFundMe link:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *