This is a menu of the topics on this page (click on any): Intake Maintenance and Immigration Accountability and Peer Groups Earned Privileges Seminars Religion Limited Outside Communications Recreation Education Marketable Skills Rotation Moving School Christmas Trees Workouts Comments by Residents Operations that did not succeed Finances Locations Organization .
Alan glanced at the Golden Gate Bridge looming over his right shoulder and rang the doorbell at 600 Embarcadero Street. A man unlocked the door ¹ and Alan said, "I want to apply to live here." Alan ² knew that if he was not accepted he would be right back in prison. About every three days, someone like Alan gets accepted. About once a month someone who has not been in the criminal justice system gets accepted.
Almost 400 residents live in this "Triangle", as they call it, three city blocks of upscale housing in an attractive neighborhood that was run down before this inviting micro-city- within-a-city was built by the residents themselves.
Intake Alan was introduced fairly quickly to Brad.
Intentionally, Brad was the same gender and race. Brad welcomed
Alan to Delancey Street. Brad would become responsible for
keeping up with Alan throughout his stay at Delancey Street. Brad
explained to Alan that there would be two additional people at
his "intake" interview. But first he took Alan to the barber shop
to get a haircut and shave and some good clothes for the
Alan would have to commit to live there two years. There were three rules: (1) no violence, (2) no threat of violence, and (3) no drugs or alcohol. Violate any one of these and you're out.
All three interviewers were men (women are interviewed by women). The most experienced interviewer would make the final decision whether to admit Alan. The other, semi-experienced, was the same race as Alan. He put Alan at ease and did most of the interviewing and probing; sometimes he shouted at Alan. Brad was the least experienced but he also pitched in from time to time.
They had an interview form ³ , but didn't use it much. The form was to make sure they found out whether Alan had ever been involved in "Sexual Offences, Molestations, or Rapes", "involved or arrested/convicted of Arson", was taking "any prescription medication", "ever had any mental health counseling", "had ever been on psychiatric medication", and had ever "attempted Suicide." Any of these conditions would indicate that Alan might need psychiatric help residents could not provide and he would be referred to some other agency. There's no medication stronger than ibuprofen in Delancey Street (DS). Anyone who is turned away can reapply after one year. There is no waiting list.
If Alan had been an extreme violent offender, that would not have ruled him out.
The interviewers were looking for Alan's accountability and honesty. They wanted to be sure he was committed to changing his life and would work hard to achieve it. The three interviewers met privately at the end of the interview and shared their impressions. Alan was accepted.
Maintenance and Immigration Alan was assigned, like everyone
new, to waiting on tables in the dining room. Anyone who had
tattoos would have to wear long sleeves to cover them up. He
started off in a dorm with seven other men. Women start off in
dorms of four or five.
For several months Alan was in this first phase called "Maintenance" with about 120 residents. Waiting on tables he had Carl as a "crew boss". He did well, sometimes working 17 hours a day, and earned the right to enter the second phase, "Immigration", which would have more challenging work assignments.
No one gets paid at DS. The organization is run completely by residents. There is no paid staff. DS is a work and education model with an extended family, to solve social problems. It has 20 business training schools, mostly labor intensive.
Accountability and Peer Groups In the evenings Alan attends
several meetings of peer groups every week. The people who began
around the same time as Alan make up one of his peer groups. The
people he works with are another. There are no secrets. Everyone
is on the same page. If someone acts in a way that could show
some improvement, it comes out from their peers in these
meetings. Alan might not accept what someone says about him, but
some other person might say it in a way that gets through to him.
These meetings give everyone a chance to vent whatever issues
they have. For quite a few months, Alan never spoke in these
meetings. The whole experience is a culture shock for many. You
hear the expression, "Everyone is accountable", very often.
Some of the peer groups are called "minions" and some are "tribes". Each has a supervisor.
Earned Privileges Brad has been there a year and a half, and he
now shows leadership in these meetings. He just started receiving
some "walk around money" (about $40 a month). He doesn't have
much to spend it on, so he puts most of it in the DS credit
union. Soon, Brad will decide whether to apply to stay longer
than two years. Average residency is about 3-1/2 years. About ten
people have earned and made a lifetime commitment. Two recently
got married and have their own private quarters.
After 30 days, Brad was allowed to write his parents to tell them where he was and that he was doing well. After 90 days he could call them. After 12 months his folks could visit him. After 15 months there were days when his children could visit on "children's day". He expects before long to take overnight family visits. None of these are entitlements. Everything is earned. The punishment for minor infractions is extra time washing dishes, time "in the dishes" to insure "accountability".
Seminars There are seminars in the dining room after lunch every day:
Limited Outside Communications There is no Internet access from
within DS (only two computers in Finance) because, "That would
put people at risk". Similarly, I did not see any cell phones,
anyone watching television, or any newspapers or magazines. I did
not observe anything that would detract people from developing
their social and work skills.
Recreation One large room that might have been a gym has been
converted to become the Town Hall. They occasionally have dances,
live music, and outside speakers.
Education DS requires every resident to pass GED equivalency
before leaving. The GED teaching is one-on-one tutoring, done by
the residents themselves using the "each one, teach one"
principle. Someone with 10th grade skills teaches someone with
8th grade skills, who teaches someone with 6th grade skills, and
so on. Final testing is done by San Francisco City College. It's
possible to earn a bachelor's degree onsite using tele-courses on
TV from San Francisco State University. The Education Department
is run by one of the managers of Finance, who is also on the
Vatican Council and the Board. Almost everyone has two or three
Marketable Skills DS expects everyone to have three marketable
skills before they graduate. Carl had no job skills when he
arrived. He now heads the paint crew and can hang sheetrock and
apply stucco. They recently had to restructure a major part of
one of the buildings. The "union" came in to show them how. San
Francisco is a union town. When the ex-cons first said they
wanted to build Delancey Street, the unions were opposed unless
DS would agree not to sell construction services (by unpaid
workers) outside. So, by agreement with the unions, construction4
is still internal only. By way of contrast, local chefs came in
to train cooks for the excellent restaurant that seats 65.
More complete information on Delancey Street's 20 training schools can be found at its website.
Rotation To enable every resident to learn three marketable job
skills, DS has an event called rotation, when many residents are
shifted from one work training school to another. Scheduling is
quite a challenge for DS managers because residents have multiple
responsibilities they have to cover.
Moving School The largest and most profitable operation in DS is
the Household Goods Moving School, licensed by the Public
Utilities Commission. It started with two men and a pickup. Now,
it's the largest independent moving company in northern
California. The manager who runs it did not have his GED and had
spent more time in prison than out of prison when he came to DS.
It took him 18 months to become a crew boss and estimator. Now
there are four supervisors under him.
The moving school is located at 5700 Third Street in a 300,000 square foot, three-floor warehouse that serves as a Business Training Complex. There are moving offices at four other Delancey Street locations. In San Francisco there are 40 trucks of all sizes, 75 nationwide. 80% of the jobs are local and 20% intrastate or interstate. Current rates are $82/hour for two men and a truck.
Marketing is word-of-mouth because of the school's high reputation for quality. They shrink wrap every piece of furniture. Their communications are restricted because they can't use cell phones and have to send quotes by fax rather than e-mail which customers would prefer.
Recently they were doing 35 moving jobs a day, employing 120 residents in peak season. A crew would come in at 3 in the afternoon, take another job and not get back until 9 at night. They were getting stressed out. Since training people is a higher priority than making money, the manager recommended to the two managers he reports to (who also have other jobs) that they stop taking orders for three days. Dr. Mimi Siebert, founder of Delancey Street, participated in the final decision not to take any new orders for two weeks so they could focus on the daily training classes. When I was there, about 40 people were being lectured on how to do the paper work required by law in moving.
There are a number of vocational specialties in the moving operation.
Frequently, DS will help "friends of DS" to move free-of-charge, such as doctors who provide pro bono services to the residents.
Some graduates of Delancey Street started their own moving businesses and became very successful; they hire other graduates already trained in providing quality service.
Christmas Trees The day after Thanksgiving, many of the moving
crew and others go all out to sell Christmas trees at 13 lots and
to decorate buildings in San Francisco. Some trees are 35 or 45
feet tall. This is the second most profitable effort at DS. (The
third most profitable is the Restaurant, which seats 65, and the
Café. I'm not sure where training in door-to-door retail sales in
LA and NY rank with regard to profitability.)
Workouts As residents approach the end of their stay at DS, they
move into the phase called "workouts". They're assisted in
getting a resume, arranging job interviews, and getting a job.
They can continue to live for a while in DS and "work out(side)",
so they don't have to move and start a new job at the same time.
After allowing for transportation and tools, they have to
contribute 50% of their salary to DS; many put the other 50% in
the credit union. Graduates often come back to teach "workouts".
Comments by Residents
Finances Delaney Street Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit
corporation with business training schools. The finances for the
facilities in Los Angeles and Brewster, NY are consolidated with
San Francisco. The facilities in NC, VA and NM have to report
separately because of legal requirements in those states. One
third ($10 million) of annual resources come from product
donations and two-thirds ($20 million) from revenue from the
training schools. Net Income (cash flow) in 2007 was nearly $5
million. Aside from Pell grants to individuals for advanced
education, DS does not accept government grants and does not
solicit donations from individuals. Nobody gets a salary. Tips,
such as those to movers, are turned over to the Foundation.
DeLoitte is the auditor. A $10 million Bank of America loan was
paid off. A 20-year, third-party, sale-and-leaseback for the
headquarters was fully paid off May 21, 2008, so DS now owns its
Locations Delancey Street Foundation has six facilities:
San Francisco 400-450;
New Mexico 120;
Los Angeles 275-350;
North Carolina 40;
Brewster, NY 120.
There have been 15,000 graduates.
Organization A Board of Directors has fiduciary responsibility;
most of the 13 members are long-term residents or graduates. An
Executive Committee comprises the President, VP, and Secretary-
Treasurer. A "Vatican Council" serves as a management committee
for operating decisions.
September 29, 2008, Daniel Dyer, 13 Main Street, Stonington, CT 06378, 860-535-2961, firstname.lastname@example.org .