In the News

Sep 13, 2022

REDF

Igniting the Flame

Two powerful stories on the power of perseverance and redemption, and the role REDF and employment social enterprise played. Narrated by Rob Lowe, featuring Brandon Smith, Co-Founder of Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program and Nyeshia Brunson of Civicworks.

Igniting the Flame

Sep 1, 2022

Precinct Reporter News

Change Allows Hiring Firefighters with Criminal Records

After Brandon N. Smith was imprisoned for the ninth time, he found himself at a crossroads. That’s when he learned about the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) conservation campfire crews, which allows inmates to train as firefighters.

Change Allows Hiring Firefighters with Criminal Records

Aug 18, 2022

Atmos

On the Fire Line After Prison

Brandon Smith is a formerly incarcerated wildland firefighter working to dismantle the prison-industrial complex—by training others like him to fight wildfires. He shares his story on The Frontline.

On the Fire Line After Prison

Jul 28, 2022

CNN

W. Kamau Bell: I’m living in a state that’s on fire

California is on fire right now. Even if you read this at some point in the future, it is getting increasingly likely that the previous sentence will still be true.

W. Kamau Bell: I’m living in a state that’s on fire

Jul 17, 2022

PBS

America Outdoors: Los Angeles: it’s a vibe

Baratunde explores his adopted hometown of Los Angeles to learn how Angelinos connect with the outdoors in their sprawling city. From kayakers saving a polluted river to urban gardens nourishing a community, and Black surfers claiming their place on the waves - even as climate change brings on the sharks - preserving access to outdoor LA is something worth fighting for.

America Outdoors: Los Angeles: it’s a vibe

May 10, 2022

ABC 7

These once incarcerated firefighters are now helping others

Two firefighters were honored on Friday for their nonprofit work that helps give people second chances.

These once incarcerated firefighters are now helping others

Apr 23, 2022

ABC 7

Formerly incarcerated firefighters among group of new graduates from SoCal fire career program

More than two dozen new Southland wildland firefighters graduated from a special program Saturday that's helping make the difference in more ways than one.

Among the graduates were formerly incarcerated firefighters. Twenty-seven men and women graduated from the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program in Altadena.

Formerly incarcerated firefighters among group of new graduates from SoCal fire career program

Mar 17, 2022

American Hearth Association

Los Angeles community impact organizations receive funding to address health inequity

DALLAS, March 17, 2022 –To sustainably address the social and economic impediments to health equity, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, today announced four Los Angeles-based organizations and social enterprises focused on improving mental health, food insecurity and economic equity will receive $465,000 in grant and convertible equity funding from the Association’s Social Impact Fund.

Los Angeles community impact organizations receive funding to address health inequity

Mar 10, 2022

Apple Podcasts

Fighting Fires For California

Firefighter Gabriel Perez has dedicated his life to keeping Californians safe from wildfires, a calling that has given him a renewed sense of purpose and an opportunity to be of service to his community.

Fighting Fires For California

Feb 17, 2022

Business Green

Verizon awards $500,000 to three start-ups in inaugural Climate Resilience Prize

Hyfi, the Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program, and Coral Vita share in the spoils of prize aimed at scaling solutions to reduce risks posed to communities from climate impacts

Verizon awards $500,000 to three start-ups in inaugural Climate Resilience Prize

Feb 17, 2022

Yahoo! Finance

Verizon Climate Resilience Prize Winners Receive $500k to Scale Climate Solutions

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., February 17, 2022 /3BL Media/ - Today, Verizon announced the three winners of its inaugural Climate Resilience Prize at the GreenBiz22 conference, awarding a prize pool of $500,000 to help scale proven, in-market solutions that are focused on mitigating the disproportionate impacts of climate change in vulnerable communities.

Verizon Climate Resilience Prize Winners Receive $500k to Scale Climate Solutions

Feb 10, 2022

Post News Group

Bay Area Leaders Receive Prestigious 2022 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards

Each year, Irvine’s Leadership Awards recognize innovative leaders whose breakthrough solutions to critical state challenges improve lives, create opportunity, and contribute to a better California. In addition to spotlighting exemplary leaders whose work benefits the people of California, The James Irvine Foundation provides each recipient’s organization with a grant of $250,000 to support their work.

Bay Area Leaders Receive Prestigious 2022 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards

Nov 21, 2021

LA Times

Meet the formerly incarcerated fire crew protecting California from wildfires

Brandon Smith and Royal Ramey met while incarcerated at Bautista Conservation Camp, one of the 35 fire camps in California.

Meet the formerly incarcerated fire crew protecting California from wildfires

Nov 19, 2021

Teen Vogue

The Last Wildfire-Fighting Camp for Incarcerated Teens in California

Chuy Hernandez turned 18 when he was at Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp (PGYCC), the only remaining “fire camp” for incarcerated youth in California. He’d spent the previous six months working with the kitchen crew, until he was legally old enough to work as a wildland firefighter.

The Last Wildfire-Fighting Camp for Incarcerated Teens in California

Aug 21, 2021

AP News

Western fires outpace California effort to fill inmate crews

"The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program, also known as FFRP, is a nonprofit organization that helps the people who are currently and formerly incarcerated in California's fire camps, transition into gainful employment as firefighters once they come home," said co-founder Brandon Smith.

Western fires outpace California effort to fill inmate crews

Sep 18, 2020

Vice

California Relies on Incarcerated Women to Fight Wildfires. Then it Abandons Them.

The state's desperate pleas for firefighters overlooks the fact that institutional barriers are preventing thousands of formerly incarcerated women and people of color with firefighting experience from working as full-time professional firefighters.

California Relies on Incarcerated Women to Fight Wildfires. Then it Abandons Them.

Sep 17, 2020

Yes! Magazine

How Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters Are Getting the Jobs and Pay They Deserve

In California’s most catastrophic wildfire season yet, an organization is challenging the state to hire firefighters who were previously incarcerated to help meet public safety needs.

How Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters Are Getting the Jobs and Pay They Deserve

Sep 4, 2020

TIME

'Only as Valuable as What You Save the State.' Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters in California Speak Out On What Needs to Change

As California faces a devastating wildfire season, a firefighter shortage has brought renewed attention to the state’s dependence upon prison labor in battling the blazes. Now, some formerly incarcerated firefighters are calling for a review into how California values its prison firefighters.

'Only as Valuable as What You Save the State.' Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters in California Speak Out On What Needs to Change

Sep 4, 2020

From Prison Crew to Pros, the Firefighters Who Beat the Odds — And Are Giving Back

In 2012, Brandon Smith was three years into serving a prison sentence at Wasco State Prison. Smith grew up in Altadena, nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains, but says that he never really thought about firefighting.

From Prison Crew to Pros, the Firefighters Who Beat the Odds — And Are Giving Back

Sep 2, 2020

Slate

Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters Are Still Fighting California’s Wildfires

California firefighters have been battling unprecedented blazes and staffing shortages this wildfire season. Before the pandemic, thousands of the state’s wildfire crews came from state prisons—incarcerated people make around $1 an hour containing fires, clearing brush, and doing other dangerous labor. But since COVID, many incarcerated firefighters have been released early.

Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters Are Still Fighting California’s Wildfires