BTC Building Brighter Futures was founded in November 2006 by Patrick Danley, under the moniker of Beyond The Conviction. Danley realized his dream of helping others as a result of poor decisions dating back to his teenage years.
“Like so many ex-offenders, my exposure to criminal activity came from being in an environment where it was accepted as a way of life, a kind of normalcy if you will,” Danley said. “I was molded in my father’s image and unfortunately followed in his footsteps which led to my own criminal activity.” Danley lived a double life of a model college student all the while engaging in criminal activity.
After graduating from Lincoln University in Missouri with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree, Danley found himself in serious trouble with the law resulting in his arrest in the state of Texas. Because he wasn’t a violent offender, Danley was released in six months as part of Texas’ Second Chance program. The program stipulated that he could never return to Texas, so he moved to Elkhart, Ind., with a white Buick and $1,200 in his pocket. While in Elkhart, Danley worked odd jobs and eventually earned a position with Goodwill Vocational Services as a job coach for ex-offenders and people with disabilities. He was later promoted to employment specialist.
He eventually moved back to Kansas City and obtained a position with IAM Cares, a vocational rehabilitation program. He was later terminated after they learned of his criminal history. “I got my first letter . . . you have a felony conviction,” Danley said. That led him to search for jobs that would not dwell on his criminal history – becoming a licensed barber and certified personal trainer. Knowing that he truly wanted to leave a life of crime behind him, Danley found himself at a crossroads when he came across a booth for the Full Employment Council of Kansas City at a local festival and was later hired as a job counselor.
“In 2001, I started as a career counselor,” he said. “During my time there I interacted with very disenfranchised and fragmented citizens – the type of people that would be considered on the fringes of society. However, I was able to give them tangible tools to obtain a job or certificate demonstrating skills they didn’t have before.” Within a few years, Danley decided to leave FEC and explore how he could turn his passion for helping others into more than just a 9-5. His job contacts, coupled with his relationships with other agencies, helped him create BTC Building Brighter Futures. While placing ex-offenders in jobs is his main motivation, Danley says he adds a more personal approach absent from other programs. “We’ve all been there,” Danley says about his staff. “A lot of staff at other social service focused organizations don’t realize what it’s like being in jail. The jails are releasing people in many cases with no job training. We do a la carte servicing.” That a la carte servicing includes a week long career readiness workshop including a life and career assessment, assistance drafting an explanation letter which clients provide to potential employers explaining their conviction and a computer diskette with 1,500 ex-offender friendly companies. All these things make the difference for the client who often feel isolated and wondering where to turn once they are released from jail. Success stories are born every day as a result of the services that BTC is providing. “Some of the stuff I kind of knew but there were a lot of things I didn’t know,” said Former Director of Operations Don Anthony Bell Johnson, who recently secured a grant to start his own business. “What helped me basically was the job search techniques, the questions in response for what to actually look for. Mr. Danley told me how to look exactly at the application and go through it. I knew this before but it’s like something that you just kind of take for granted.” This customized one on one support for a unique kind of job seeker is what sets BTC apart from other organizations.