Best of the Bronx: Formerly incarcerated man helps young people succeed

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THE BRONX -

A formerly incarcerated man is helping young people succeed on the campus of Bronx Community College.

He has earned President Awards, studied in Salzburg, Austria, won the New York State All-Academic Team Award and received a scholarship to New York University.

Coffie has an associate’s degree from BCC, bachelors and master’s degrees from NYU. He even created mentoring and advocacy groups and wrote a book. But not before spending 19 years in prison.  

"My first time going to prison, I was 20 years old," he says. "I've been incarcerated over six times throughout my life."

Coffie spent 19 years in different prisons and in different states. As a former drug dealer, foster child, and victim of bullying, he was also homeless.

He came to New York and was accepted into the DOE Fund, which helps formerly incarcerated men transition back into life after release and that's where he was inspired to start college, and did so at the age of 40.

He's created a few organizations to give young people coming out of prison the mentorship and resources they need to get to school and succeed.

His goal is to help others reach their full potential, he says.

"They might not have had the parents, who are too ashamed to talk about the pain. You have the potential, you are a rose that will bloom from this concrete." 

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