Project WHAT!

 We’re Hiring Youth!


Project WHAT! We’re Here And Talking

Led by youth who have had a parent incarcerated, Project WHAT! raises awareness about children with incarcerated parents with the long-term goal of improving services and policies that affect these children.  WHAT! stands for We’re Here And Talking, which is exactly what the team is doing. Over 7 million children have a parent on parole, probation, or incarcerated. The program employs young people who have experienced parental incarceration as the primary curriculum content developers and facilitators for trainings. Here’s what one youth says about their experience:

“Project WHAT! gives me the opportunity to share my personal experience with an audience than needs and wants to hear from us.  What I like most is achieving the very goal that our name suggests by sharing our personal experiences and spreading awareness.”  – Project WHAT! Youth Advocate

Our Offerings

Launched in 2006 by Community Works, Project WHAT! has delivered nearly 100 trainings to 5,500 people in 14 counties throughout California and seven states. Our youth-led trainings provide audiences with tools to more effectively serve children who have or have had a parent incarcerated. Here’s what one audience member said after our presentation to the San Mateo County Reentry Council:

“Our members were not only impressed with your stories, but your resiliency, hopes and dreams for your futures, and willingness to make a difference. Your work will have a significant impact on policy makers and cause them to consider, before acting, what impact their decisions have on children and youth.”  – Director, San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services

Our offerings are designed and delivered by our team of trained youth.

Youth-led Trainings: Tailored to meet your needs, our trainings enhance conferences, workshops and staff in-service trainings.

Co-Facilitation and Presentations: We are trained facilitators and speakers who can add a unique perspective to your programs and events. 

Educational Resources: 

Resource Guide for Teens with a Parent in Prison or Jail was developed by Project WHAT! youth, this 80-page workbook answers common questions that children have when a parent is incarcerated. It has an entire section that explains complex jail and prison visiting procedures in plain language.
A Sentence Apart: a 12-minute DVD features two youth from Project WHAT! and a grandmother as they cope with a family member in prison, attempting to bridge broken relationships, and diligently working to break the generational cycle of incarceration.  (fee)
The Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents pamphlet, outlining the central principles of the children of incarcerated parents (CIP) advocacy movement, is distributed at our presentations.

Technical Assistance: We provide technical assistance to organizations wanting to replicate our program.
Audiences include Administrative Office of the Court, Alameda County First 5, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Greater Bay Area Child Abuse Prevention Coalition, Oakland Children’s Hospital; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families Children’s Summit, San Francisco Unified School District, San Francisco County Reentry Council, San Mateo County Reentry Council, Solano County Reentry Council, and social workers and probation officers at the Bay Area Training Academy and Northern California Training Academy. Download a training request form.


Recent graduates of the Project WHAT! curriculum are eligible to receive a scholarship to further their studies at college and beyond. Click on the names below to read more about two of our recent graduates, Jalea and Cris.


Jalea                                                             Cris

Please consider helping them realize their dream with a donation to the Project WHAT! Scholarship Fund: Click here to donate and choose “Project WHAT!” in the “Gift Designation” field.  Then write “For Project WHAT! Scholarship Fund” in the “Additional Information” field. Thank you for your support!


In order to work with Project WHAT!, at least one of your parents MUST have been incarcerated at some point in your life, and YOU must be willing to speak publicly about how their incarceration affected your life. These are PAID part-time positions. Pay starts at $8/hour for the summer training. If you complete the summer training, you will be paid $10/hour at the beginning of the school year, and can work your way up to $12/hour. A one-year commitment is required.

We are currently hiring youth! View the recruitment flier and download the application, due by April 29, 2016.


Project WHAT! Resource Guide for Teens with a Parent in Prison or Jail

Project WHAT! Research Summary (PDF, published March 2007)  

One-page fact sheet about Project WHAT! (Word doc, updated January 2012)


Please visit News & Events to see Project WHAT! Media Coverage.

Please visit our Calendar to see upcoming Project WHAT! events and check out our Blog!


For more information, please contact Zoe Willmott, Project WHAT! Program & Policy Director, at (510) 486-2340 or

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