Frequently Asked Questions:

1- What is MGSF mission? 

Those of who work at the Michael G. Santos Foundation create programs and offers services that help individuals become more than the bad decisions of their past. We created a values-based, goal-oriented cognitive skills development program that we call the Straight-A Guide to reach our objective. We based this program on the well-documented strategies that Michael Santos began pursuing in August of 1987, when he was 23 and locked inside of a county jail. His deliberate approach to preparing for a successful re-entry into society carried him through longer than a quarter century in prison. As a result of his commitment to the Straight-A Guide, he returned to society in August of 2013, with values, skills and resources that translate into success, exactly as taxpayers hope all offenders would return to society. Indeed, less than three weeks after his return to society, Michael began teaching at San Francisco State University. Through our programs, the MGSF strives to show others how to tune out the negativity of their environments and prepare for law-abiding, contributing lives.

2- When did MGSF officially begin? 

Justin Paperny, executive director of the foundation, took steps to begin the 501C3 organization in 2009. He hired a lawyer to file the appropriate paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service and put a board of directors together. While Michael was still in prison, he collaborated with Justin to write the documents that would explain the purposes of the organization and the ways that MGSF could add value in building safer communities.

3- How did MGSF begin?

Justin Paperny served an 18-month sentence in federal prison for violating securities laws when he was a stockbroker. While inside, he met Michael Santos and he participated in courses Michael taught to help offenders prepare for success upon release. Justin became a believer in the program because he saw hundreds of other prisoners benefiting from the program, and he found meaning in the coursework. Upon his release from prison, Justin took the initiative to launch the Michael G. Santos Foundation as a IRS approved nonprofit organization. By collaborating with Michael on writing grant requests, Justin was able to secure sponsorship funding. Those financial resources allowed MGSF to begin creating, distributing, and teaching the Straight-A Guide Cognitive Skills Development Program.

4- What does MGSF do? 

MGSF creates re-entry and cognitive skills development programs. Additionally, we operate a staffing company that provides a bridge between the formerly incarcerated and employers for those who proceed through our Straight-A Guide program.

5- Please briefly describe the seven attributes of the Straight-A Guide?

Attitude: Individuals who reach the highest levels of success begin with a 100 percent commitment, and their attitudes reflect such a commitment. They focus exclusively on what they’re striving to become. To the extent that they keep everything they think, say and do in harmony with the values by which they profess to live, they succeed.

Aspiration: As individuals commit to live their values and achieve their goals with an unwavering, 100-percent attitude, they set aspirations with clarity. Their aspirations enable Straight-A Guide participants to envision exactly what they’re striving to become, empowering them with energy from within to invest all of their thoughts, actions, and words into becoming those aspirations—whatever they may be.

Action: As participants in the Straight-A Guide programs demonstrate their commitment to success with their 100-percent attitudes, and those attitudes lead to aspirations, the aspirations lead to clearly-defined, carefully calculated, incremental action steps. Aspirations without 100 percent commitment to action plans rarely amount to more than fantasy. Straight-A Guide participants succeed to the extent that they take deliberate action steps versus relying on chance, randomness, or luck.

Accountability: With their absolute commitment to leading deliberate lives, those who embrace principles of the Straight-A Guide take incremental steps with clearly defined timelines and milestones. They announce what they’re striving to achieve, and they further their commitment to success by inviting others to hold them accountable. By developing tools to record their incremental progress, Straight-A Guide participants have the necessary tools to evaluate their performance, making purposeful adjustments when necessary.

Awareness: By leading deliberate, values-based, goal-driven lives, those who commit to the Straight-A Guide sharpen their awareness. That awareness has a double benefit: it enables Straight-A Guide devotees to make the most effective use of atmospherics and of the resources around them. Further, an additional benefit comes through the awareness of others. Individuals who commit to the Straight-A Guide programs create an awareness that leads to respect, admiration, and support. The more individuals live with transparency and integrity, the more awareness they generate, and a vested interest in their success follows.

Achievement: Those who commit to the Straight-A Guide celebrate every achievement. They understand that overnight success requires years of carefully crafted aforethought. It requires a 100 percent attitude and incremental action steps that lead to clearly defined aspirations. In order to foster continuously renewable energy, they celebrate every achievement. Success is a journey that lasts a lifetime, with each incremental step being an achievement to celebrate.

Appreciation: Individuals who embrace the Straight-A Guide live in a continuous state of gratitude. They appreciate the many blessings around them, striving to take every opportunity to thank God and those around them for inspiration to lead values-based, goal-oriented lives. They create opportunities, meaning, and fulfillment from the choices they make throughout every day.

6- How does MGSF sustain itself?

MGSF sustains itself through the licensing of its Straight-A Guide Programs, grants, and donations.

7- What are our products?

MGSF offers the Straight-A Guide Cognitive Development Program. The program includes a 50-hour curriculum to help at-risk populations appreciate the importance of preparing for law-abiding, contributing lives. MGSF designed the program for facilitators to teach in one-hour segments. We provide facilitators with videos, literature, and lesson plans. Participants appreciate the character-building program because they identify with those who deliver the message. The videos show how individuals who live in prison or come from at-risk backgrounds can transform their lives from struggle to fulfillment through self-directed preparations. The message comes from people who have successfully emerged from difficult backgrounds and totally rejected criminal lifestyles.

8- Who partners with MGSF or uses its products? 

MGSF partners with prisons, county jails, juvenile halls, alternative education schools, and other institutions that work with at-risk populations. Some of our partners include the National Guard Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy, Orange County Department of Education, Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall, Franklin County Jail & Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

9- Who are MGSF competitors?

Although many evidence-based programs exist to help prepare at-risk populations for law-abiding lives, the Straight-A Guide is unique in its authenticity. An individual who made the commitment to prepare for a law-abiding, contributing life while traversing 26 years in prisons of every security level designed the program. He relied upon others who transformed their lives while living inside of prison systems to help communicate the message. The distinguishing characteristic between the MGSF Straight-A Guide Program and competitors is its authenticity, meaning that there is living, breathing evidence of its potential to change lives. Participants identify with that authenticity, making it a valuable tool for facilitators who want to teach character-building programs to at-risk populations.

10- Where is MGSF located?

The Michael G. Santos Foundation is a lean startup, operating out of the personal residences of its principals in California. Through our deliberate, disciplined approach, we’ve created the Straight-A Guide Program with sponsorship resources from philanthropic organizations. In order to build sustainability, we sell the Straight-A Guide Program to organizations across the United States.

11- Who qualifies for Straight-A Guide Staffing?

Individuals who work through the Straight-A Guide life-skills programs may apply for employment positions with Straight-A Guide Staffing. Principals of MGSF work with employers to open job opportunities for those who demonstrate their commitment to living as law-abiding, contributing citizens.

12- We are already using re-entry and life skills programs. Why should we implement yours?

Most of our partners, including the National Guard and Orange County Department of Education, have existing programs. Participants identify with the authenticity of our Straight-A Guide program. They learn from individuals who began serving time inside of prisons, but embraced the Straight-A Guide as a tool to help them tune out negativity and reject criminal lifestyles. Our character-building program is an effective and powerful compliment to other evidence-based programming.

13- What if my institution does not have access to a DVD player or other device to show the 50 videos?

While facilitators and participants would find enormous value from the videos, those who lack access to a DVD player may refer to the video’s written script that begins each lesson plan.

14- How will I access the PDFs of all 50 lesson plans and books associated with program?

MGSF will create a private user identification and password for each facilitator. Those credentials will allow each facilitator access to all materials.

15- Will participants who complete the program earn credits towards their GED or high school diploma?

Yes. Our clients who issue high school credentials are using our Straight-A Guide Program as part of their curriculum. They assign up to five elective credits toward high school equivalency from our values-based, goal-oriented program. Students who proceed through the Straight-A Guide improve skills in reading, writing, vocabulary building, and critical thinking.

16- How long will I have access to the lesson plans, books, and videos posted on the download area of website? 

Administrators purchase a one-year license agreement that begins on the date the partnership or contract begins; of course they can purchase multi-year licensing agreements.

17- Are licensing agreements for longer than one-year possible? 

Yes. While some partners may choose to renew annually, others may sign agreements lasting longer than one year.