Amachi Initiative


“Who knows what God has brought us through this child.”  

Meaning of the Nigerian Ibo word ‘Amachi’

According to Thomas K. Lowenstein, Director of the Electronic Policy Network, “80 percent of America’s prison inmates are parents. Researchers estimate that children of prisoners are five times more likely to experience incarceration than those who never experience the pain of having one of their parents imprisoned. Meanwhile, incarceration deepens a job-skill deficit that a significant body of research shows to be a leading factor explaining ‘criminal’ behavior among disadvantaged people in the first place. Richard B. Freeman and Jeffrey Fagan have shown that “Crime rates are inversely related to expected legal wages, particularly among young males with limited job skills or prospects.’ The ‘war on drugs’ that contributes so strongly to minority incarceration inflates the price of underground substances, combining with ex-offenders’ shortage of marketable skills in the legal economy to create irresistible incentives for parolees to engage in precisely the sort of income-generating conduct that leads back to prison.”

By matching children of incarcerated adults to other adult mentors, we help break the cycle of generational imprisonment so prevalent today, especially among the population we serve through CHR.

Across the United States, an estimated two million children have at least one parent who is incarcerated. Statistics show that children of prisoners are at higher risk for a slew of emotional and behavioral problems. These young people are six times more likely to be incarcerated at some point during their lives. The Amachi Initiative partners children of prisoners with caring adult volunteer mentors. Amachi incorporates program infrastructure and expertise developed by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS), which provides the mechanisms for monitoring and supporting matches. Amachi influences young lives, improving prospects for the future and reducing crime and incarceration in years to come. Our program includes matching up to 2,500 youth to adult mentors over the next several years in our service area.

Nationwide, mentors in various organizations who participate in the Amachi program have served at least 100,000 children, providing strong and trusting friendships, encouraging a sense of self-worth and meaningful direction, and providing the security of knowing that an adult is there to help.