Our Mission

Our mission is to assist individuals who have been impacted by incarceration, or homelessness, or who are battling addiction to overcome barriers and obstacles faced within the community that hinder their prosperity and their ability to have a thriving future.

Our vision is to walk alongside our clients to see them grow into a prosperous and thriving life, while highlighting the barriers associated with those exiting incarceration and overcoming addiction, in order to reduce the negative stigmas and stereotypes.


Our History

REAL Life was founded in 2016 by Dr. Sarah Scarbrough as a response to the growing number of challenges faced by men and women exiting incarceration in Richmond, Virginia. As Program Director in the Richmond City Justice Center (RCJC), or the City Jail, Dr. Scarbrough and her staff continued to receive multiple calls each week relating to the obstacles faced by returning citizens who were a part of The REAL (Recovering from Everyday Addictive Lives) Program, the nationally and internally recognized behavior modification program in the RCJC.

While The REAL Program highly prepared someone for success upon release back into the community, the number of challenges post-release hindered success for many. Obstacles such as lack of cell phones or bus tickets hindered many people’s ability to even apply for a job. Lack of safe and stable housing often resulted in individuals either sleeping on the street or going back to the crack house they previously lived in. While these are just a few of the many obstacles faced by those REAL Life serves, they are severe enough to put someone back into the same situations they found themselves in prior to their incarceration, contributing to starting the cycle of addiction and incarceration, yet again.

Through REAL Life, we are able to meet clients where they are in order to assist them in overcoming such barriers. Already having a relationship and trust established while they are incarcerated and then being available immediately upon their release, enables us to help pull them through difficult situations that often lead to relapse and re-offending. Yet, while providing such resources for those coming out of The REAL Program, we continued to realize the growing need of those exiting incarceration from other jails and prisons, as well as those in our community.

As such, through strategic planning and discussion, we have diversified our mission so we are able to better address the needs of the community as a whole. The first step of this will be the opening of the REAL Life Community Center (RLCC), set to open in December 2017, which will be a one-stop-shop for those who desire to overcome their addiction or sustain their sobriety. The RLCC will serve adults who are committed to building a thriving life.


Board & Members

Dr. Sarah Scarbrough, ex-officio member
Founder and Director

Jamal Brooks
VCU School of Social Work

Anand Francis
Capital One

Allison Hallberg
Integrated Health Services

Anthony Mingo
Virginia Family and Fatherhood Initiative

Elaine Minor
Richmond Police Department

Laikyn Severson
Divaris Real Estate, Inc.

C.T Woody, Jr.
Former City of Richmond Sheriff, Community Volunteer