Who Can Participate in a POPS Club?2022-01-28T15:24:53+00:00

POPS (Pain of the Prison System) is a club made for teens who have been impacted by incarceration. We create a sacred space where everyone is invited to share their truths with no fear of judgment. Some students wish to support their friends, and POPS welcomes them to meetings.

How Do I Bring POPS to My School?2023-02-03T01:25:53+00:00

If you are interested in bringing POPS to your school:

In Los Angeles: A club requires administration approval and a minimum of one club sponsor (teacher, counselor, or combination of teachers). Please get in touch with us at pops@thepathfindernetwork.org to discuss next steps.
Outside LA: Contact us at pops@thepathfindernetwork.org with the following information:

  1. What does your school (or community center) require to establish a club?
  2. Are you a teacher/counselor/administrator willing/able to be the club sponsor, or do you know someone who is?
  3. Do you know of any organizations in your area willing to partner with POPS to support your club(s)? If not, please reach out anyway, and POPS will work with you.
What Does a POPS Club Volunteer Do?2023-02-03T01:22:33+00:00

Become a community volunteer inside a POPS club throughout the school year (35 to 40 weeks) or a speaker who visits clubs periodically.

  • Community volunteers participate in a 90-minute training, undergo a background check, and take a Tuberculosis test to work with youth. In some instances, school administration officials must approve volunteers after taking school-based online training.
  • Volunteers pick up and serve food, provide lessons from the POPS curriculum and are participating members of the club.
  • Volunteers know how to be good listeners and help to ensure the club remains a productive, welcoming, safe environment for new and returning students.
  • Lead volunteers at each club respond to a brief survey every other week and help distribute and collect student surveys, student artwork, writing, and parent- or guardian-signed permission forms required for each student wishing to publish in the annual POPS anthology for the use of any photographs of students.
  • Covid-19: Certain schools require proof of vaccination or weekly PCR testing to attend in-person meetings. Certain clubs are currently operating outside to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • POPS the Cub has created a robust curriculum—exercises for self-expression, mindfulness, and community engagement—each lesson designed to be conducted during a school’s lunch period. This curriculum is not prescribed or assigned. Lessons topics are independent of one another, and volunteers, sponsors, and students select when and how to use them. Club meeting discussions frequently focus on events of the day.
  • POPS publishes a nationally distributed anthology of students’ writing and artwork each year. Each club has a collection of previously published anthologies on hand for readings and sharing, and the poetry, artwork, and stories in these books often prompt discussion.

Those unable to volunteer weekly can also serve as Guest Speakers, support POPS events, serve on the POPS Advisory Council or Board of Directors, or offer skills or expertise to benefit the organization and students. If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please reach out to our Program team at pops@thepathfindernetwork.org.

Where, When and How Often Do Clubs Meet?2022-01-28T15:31:14+00:00

POPS clubs meet once a week, usually during lunch, most often inside an assigned classroom (usually the club sponsor’s room). Club sponsors select the day of the meeting.

What Happens in POPS Club Meetings?2022-01-28T15:31:48+00:00

POPS clubs focus on creating a safe space. Meetings often include an activity (e.g., writing, making art, mindfulness exercises, a film, a reading, a guest speaker, a discussion of a current event or an individual’s pressing need).

POPS operates under the premise that it is okay for STUDENTS TO KEEP THEIR STORIES TO THEMSELVES.

POPS the Club values the liberating experience of sharing our stories, but no one is ever required to talk or write about their life. Some find the experience of writing, painting, or otherwise expressing their truths liberating, but this is not a requirement for membership. On rare occasions, students have kept their own stories private for years. POPS understands the benefit of forging a nurturing and supportive community.

Who Leads Club Meetings?2022-01-28T15:32:28+00:00

POPS clubs are student-led.

Sponsors and volunteers maintain the safe space, organize events, work with staff to invite guest speakers, and deliver the curriculum. POPS encourages each club to elect student officers at the start of the school year (President & Vice President), so these students can actively work with the volunteer team to set the club agenda. POPS curriculum focuses on self-expression, mindfulness, and community engagement—all designed to be conducted within 30 to 45-minutes, the average lunch period. Lessons are a la carte.

The POPS curriculum continues to grow, often based on recommendations by sponsors, volunteers, and students. If students express no desire to explore the specific topic of engagement for the day, the sponsor or volunteer will offer a prompt either from our curriculum or informed by it. We appreciate that student discussions are often based on current events.

What is the Core Message of POPS the Club?2022-01-28T15:32:54+00:00

The unique pain that arises by association with the prison system can be isolating and traumatic, but POPS recognizes that that pain is not defining. POPS youth engage with their intrinsic self-worth, become active inside a community of support, and tap into their potential for limitless transformation. Many POPS graduates have become strong community leaders and return as guest speakers and visitors to share their experiences and hard-won wisdom.

What is POPS the Club’s Theory of Change?2022-01-28T15:33:12+00:00

POPS the Club creates opportunities for youth impacted by trauma to learn new skills and talents and express thoughts and ideas in creative and therapeutic ways. POPS arts and mindfulness activities help teens cope with painful experiences by fostering resiliency and providing outlets for self-expression. POPS the Club activities strengthen problem-solving skills, autonomy, a sense of purpose, and social competence. POPS art experiences, coupled with building a sense of community with youth and adults sharing a similar experience, encourage healing, positive emotions, and strength, allowing club members to view themselves as resilient.

How Can I Support POPS Clubs?2023-02-03T01:23:58+00:00

In addition to foundation grants, individual donations are a critical source of POPS the Club’s funding. Please consider making a donation to our organization.

Visit our Ways To Give page and Just Giving page.


If you work for an organization that engages in corporate philanthropy, wish to help provide lunch to one or more clubs, or are interested in fundraising or just spreading the word about POPS, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at pops@thepathfindernetwork.org.

We also welcome physical donations such as journals, pens, books, paper, laptops, iPads, headphones, etc.

How Can I Join the POPS Board of Directors?2023-02-03T01:24:49+00:00

If you think you have an area of expertise coupled with a desire to commit to the POPS the Club mission, please reach out to us at pops@thepathfindernetwork.org.

POPS the Club One-Sheet (PDF)2019-11-21T00:52:21+00:00
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