We empower African Americans transitioning from treatment facilities to the community after incarceration. Since 1993, our transformative Friday night event, The Gathering, has brought together hundreds of individuals. Our mission is to assist justice-involved individuals in rebuilding their lives, unlocking their full potential, and realizing their dreams.
Opened TRP Academy -- Reentry Transitional and Supportive Housing, Billie Holiday Stabilization Center, and the Minna Project – dual diagnosis transitional house
Opened Positive Directions Equals Change Women & Children Family Reunification Transitional House -- HER House
Celebrated twenty-five years of service to the community at the 25th Anniversary Gala
Cregg Johnson recipient of national Jefferson Award for Community Service
Positive Directions Equals Changes experienced a wilderness experience in our organization’s history with a loss of resources catapulted by a downturn in the economy, coupled with a shift by the City and County of San Francisco abstinence-based program model to a harm reduction approach. During this period mental health services became the priority over substance abuse treatment and services. As an organization we re-evaluated and restructured our service delivery model focusing on our core values.
Opened first Positive Directions Equals Change Transitional House located at 1633 Newcomb Avenue, San Francisco, California
Established the Positive Directions Equals Change Outpatient Drug Treatment Program at 2111 Jennings Street, San Francisco
Received certification from the state of California as an Outpatient Treatment Provider
Received our 501(c)3 non-profit status
Started The Gathering support group at Potrero Hill Neighborhood House
Group started as an African American Men’s support group with 40 graduates from the Delancey Street Foundation
Positive Directions Equals Change has been dedicated to making a positive impact on our community for 30 years, and we could not have done it without the support of our volunteers, donors, and partners. As we prepare for our 30th anniversary fundraiser, we want to thank everyone who has been part of our journey and invite you to join us on November 3rd, 2023, for a night filled with celebration, inspiration, and hope.
OUR CORE VALUES
Without it, none of us would be here: we would still be out there.
We are a work in progress
staying sober is #1 and a lifestyle.
Without support we can’t survive it without the Source that’s our power.
Without the strength that we get from each other there would be no family.
On October 23, 1993, 28 African American men who were recent graduates from Delancey Street Foundation, a non-traditional treatment facility that teaches self-sufficiency, accountability and a strong work ethic, formed a support group. At the time, we embarked on a life long journey to create lasting sustainability. We met at Lee and Gwen Boone’s home in the Bayview area of San Francisco, to discuss how we were going to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfillment. Our goal was to create a support network and sounding board to connect those who faced similar challenges and to continue our fight from incarceration, drug use and abuse. The data revealed a disproportionate number of Black men who had completed the program were not sustaining their sobriety and the probability of recidivism linked to personal, sociological, economic and lifestyle factors was prevalent. The support group model was effective to address the emotional and personal struggles we had experienced once we became graduates of Delancey Street. Several months after graduation, recognizing the impactful work and extended benefits not just for us, but for our families and the community, we strategized about how we could give back to those who may have been affected by past behavior. Our close-knit support group was expanded by allowing others; men, women and those of all races, religions, colors, or national origins to become members. We also began to do fundraisers, sponsoring clean and sober dances in the community, inviting families and community members to BBQ’s, feeling grateful for what we were doing, making a brand and name for ourselves, but we wanted more. Positive Directions Equals Change, Inc. was an evolution of our desire to work within the community to identify its needs, find resources (internal and/or external) to deal with these needs in a strategic and collaborative manner. During one of our monthly business meetings in January 1994, Cregg Johnson and Cedric Akbar were chosen to formalize our collective vision, organizational mission statement, membership structure and business formation. The initial formulation and service offerings was based on an out- patient treatment program that morphed into case management, substance abuse treatment, transitional housing and employment opportunities. The mission of Positive Directions Equals Change, Inc., is to promote a philosophy, a set of principles, and a program that inspires personal and social responsibility within our community. To address long-term community needs, barriers, and solutions that will reduce the incidence of drug abuse and incarceration in our neighborhoods; and to deliver services to assist individuals and their families to succeed in treatment and recovery from drug addictions and reduce destructive behavior. PDEC’s first office was at the United Council at 2111 Jennings Street in San Francisco. We began outpatient services there in May of 1994, where we taught Life Skills, Health Education, Resume writing along with Substance Abuse classes. Although we had a small space it served its purpose, (gratitude, humility). Two years later, we moved into our own place located at 4716 Third Street and began to build a reputation in the Bayview Community for serving the formerly incarcerated and those with substance abuse backgrounds. In 2010 we moved our location to 1633 Newcomb Avenue, San Francisco, and as of today, we continue to do what the Founders, as well as those who joined us along the way. The name PDEC had become synonyms through the City and County of San Francisco as a collaborative community partner. Over the last 30 years we have had the opportunity to assist families with reunification, serve thousands of men and women with criminal and substance abuse backgrounds at high success rates. The organization has reached a milestone. Our strategic planning process has shown that the organizations’ mission is as relevant today as it was in 1993. The future is bright. There is so much more that we can tell you about our journey, of course there was a multitude of barriers that were put forth, in and out of the organization. But we were gracious and rose above it all. Resiliency, Character and Hope!
Calvin (Cregg) Johnson
He is one of the visionary leaders who spearheaded the evolution of Positive Directions Equals Changes, Inc. a community-based non-profit in Bayview Hunters Point community and a native of San Francisco. Mr. Johnson is a change agent, disruptor, and trailblazer. As an African American leader in the recovery community, he chooses to speak up, call out, and confront systems and organizations that marginalize and ignore disfranchised communities. Acknowledging the consequences of doing so, he also recognizes you cannot control how others may respond. He believes in offering people a place to be themselves and the importance of not passing judgment. Being real, being vulnerable, and being humble can build character, and foster self-development.
He is the Program Director for the Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention (TRP) Academy, a culturally responsive, peer-led, abstinence-based therapeutic teaching community and transitional housing program that works with justice-involved clients in San Francisco. With decades of public, private, and non-profit service, Mr. Johnson has been working in a professional capacity in the field of substance abuse and servicing justice involved clients over many years. His leadership includes the administration of specific intervention programs to divert people from the criminal justice system and into treatment where possible, programs to help people re-enter community living successfully after a period of incarceration, and training and consultation with the criminal justice system. Mr. Johnson is committed to promoting recovery-oriented, integrated, and culturally responsive services and systems that foster dignity, respect, and meaningful community inclusion.
Cregg is a Trailblazer and a Guide with the gift of helping people find their voice and their way. He is a recipient of “The Jefferson Award for Community Innovators”, national recognition of his community service and visionary leadership.
Cedric Akbar is the Executive Director of Positive Directions Equals Change, Inc., and the Director of Forensic Services for Westside Community Services, a member of the San Francisco Adult Probation Department’s Community Advisory Board, a member of the San Francisco Local Homeless Coordinating Board, and holds a seat on the City and County of San Francisco’s Community Corrections Partnership as an expert in substance abuse treatment. Mr. Akbar is a community thought leader in the Bayview community and Bay Area.
In his professional capacity, Cedric manages eight reentry programs including the Positive Directions TRP Academy, the Minna Project, the Billie Holiday Stabilization Center, and HER House. The commonality of these public service roles is his ability to effectuate strategic partnerships to create, grow and sustain operational efficiencies geared toward recovery, prevention, or limit criminal justice system involvement, promotion of public safety, and coordination of activities with other state and private agencies. His collaborative approach has resulted in strong community alliances and the creation of a service model to deliver specialty-skilled evaluation and treatment services for individuals with serious mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders who become involved in the criminal justice system and to serve the courts and other components of the criminal justice system. Cedric’s leadership to shape the future of recovery service delivery to include teaching, learning, and research; to advance the health and well-being of people; and to contribute to civic engagement and a more just and ethical society.
A servant for Christ, Cedric has served the people of San Francisco for decades. While human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel. His great passion through Christ is bringing healing to people who have been marginalized by addiction and the criminal justice system. He has helped countless people find healthy perceptions of themselves, overcome addiction, and begin to achieve their dreams.
Westside Community Services
Sisters Circle Women Support Network, Inc
San Mateo Adult Probation Program
California Department of Correction Parole Division
Salvation Army/Harbor Lights
San Francisco Adult Probation
TAP 1380 Howard Street