Tara Libert: Motivating youth to pursue positive life paths
Tara is a recipient of our 2012 Linowes Leadership award, recognizing the “unsung heroes” who are working to make our community better every day.
Tara Libert turns good ideas into reality. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, an organization that provides incarcerated youth with access to educational programs that motivate them to pursue positive life paths. Free Minds has served more than 550 teenaged boys charged and incarcerated adults in the DC Department of Corrections, providing three successive phases of growth and opportunity – Book Club at the DC Jail, Continuing Support in federal prisons and Reentry support upon release. These programs have helped DC youth learn and improve their reading and writing skills, become blossoming writers and poets, and most importantly, help them gain valuable life skills. Tara has created a newsletter, The Free Minds Connect to keep DC’s incarcerated youth sent to federal prisons all across the country informed and involved. This newsletter is a collaborative effort between youth serving prison time, their family members, Free Minds volunteers and the wider DC community, who submit poetry personal essays, and news articles. The project has been widely successful and serves as a forum for older inmates to advise and encourage younger ones. She has also developed a violence prevention project “On The Same Page: Free Minds Poetry in the Classroom and the Community” where Free Minds poets home in the community share their powerful stories of personal change to engage and educate high school students and DC residents on the root causes of youth incarceration. Through her tireless work, Tara proves to these young people that there is hope for their future – and helps them envision and reach for a better life.
Click the video below to watch Tara’s story.