Nonprofit Lufkin teaches ‘financial literacy’ to ex-convicts

LUFKIN, Texas (KLTV) — This can be a big part of breaking the cycle of getting in and out of prison.

A group at Lufkin helps prisoners get training and find jobs. Federal data estimates that up to 60 percent of ex-convicts struggle to find employment, sometimes for years after release.

The Legacy Institute for Financial Education came to Lufkin in 2014, and their original focus was financial literacy.

Executive Director Joseph Caesar says the focus then changed when they realized that financial literacy is hard to teach when there are few quality jobs available for ex-convicts, so the next chapter was born.

“In the Next Chapter program, we help people get good jobs through training, and we partner with Angelina College, and we partner with other employment partners, because we help them get a certification, soft skills, and in some cases, these people get out of jail,” Cesar said.

Next Chapter helps anyone who is open and willing to accept its services.

Since the inception of Next Chapter 26, people have completed educational or professional training programs such as HVACH, IT AND CDL training.

One such person being Maurice Watts who was released from prison in January after serving a 4 year sentence in a federal penitentiary in Beaumont.

Watts says he heard about Legacy and their work through a friend.

“When I got home he kind of told me where I should go with this. You know those guys over there are really great, they help you out as much as they can,” Watts said.

Watts entered an integrated training in education and workforce development in partnership with Angelina College where he worked and studied for his CDL.

“People here are pretty much hands-on and help you through whatever you need,” Watts said.

Watts completed the course, passed his tests to get his CDL, and now works for a company in SAN Augustine driving an 18-wheeler.

His message to everyone is to never give up.

“A lot of people can get out of jail or have a hard life and give up but you can never say never because when you have opportunities like these and the word gets out it’s like a fresh start on life said Watts.

Caesar says everyone at Legacy believes in second chances.

“We are people who believe in the book and so having a second chance, a third chance or even a fourth chance, we think is important. The people we work with need people who believe in them,” Caesar said.

Geraldine L. Melton