Why Not Prosper (WNP) a grassroots nonprofit founded by a formerly incarcerated woman for other formerly incarcerated women located in the Germantown and Cobbs Creek sections of Philadelphia, is growing thanks to financing from PIDC. WNP is a strong advocate for women and provides programs and services that support women in their re-entry efforts from prison to community. WNP provides a continuum of programs that includes pre-release mentoring to incarcerated women, residential and community services. PIDC provided a Working Capital & Equipment Loan to help WNP complete renovations for its two locations, WNP House, which will accommodate up to 30 beds for female returning citizens and the Germantown Resource Center, which will include an office space for their self-sufficiency and workforce skills program.
Rev. Michelle Anne Simmons, founder of WNP, was inspired by her own life experiences and a growing relationship with God calling her to help other sisters in a similar situation. After her incarceration, Rev. Simmons was able to turn her life around. In 2008 she graduated from Chestnut Hill College with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services and in 2010 received a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. She is also a Certified Allied Addictions Practitioner and a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. In 2000 she started WNP to help other women like herself.
By 2017, WNP’s locations were in need of some building improvements to better serve its clients. Rev. Simmons contacted Vaughn Taylor at PIDC who she had known from previous work in the neighborhood. “PIDC’s loan has allowed me to renovate my buildings with a spirit of excellence”, she says.
Rev. Simmons is committed to making an impact in her community. She finds it important to serve as a mentor for women coming home from prison, and does her best to lead by example. She is also big on community engagement, growth and development. For example, Shop Rite gives WNP food donations, so to pay it forward, every Monday they give the over flow of food back to the community to anyone in need.
The future is looking bright for WNP. Rev. Simmons plans to open up other transitional houses in other parts of the city as well as in other states. She also wants to continue mentoring individuals that wish to open up similar programs to help others. She has 8 mentees that have opened up their own transitional house under her guidance. She does this with the help of her book titled How to Start a Transitional House for Women. Rev. Simmons says, “I definitely see myself furthering the community by uplifting others in any way that I can. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the support of organizations like PIDC, that provide the capital to grow for businesses like WNP.” PIDC is excited to be a part of WNP’s story and looks forward to seeing its continued impact in Philadelphia.