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What We Do

Our History

For almost 40 years, Better Decisions has been helping women make Better Decisions. We are a volunteer-driven organization, attracting women of all ages and backgrounds interested in working one-to-one with an inmate or at-risk woman who wants to improve herself and learn decision-making skills.

Our program incorporates two parts: individualized mentoring and group classes. It is a unique educational program that teaches life-planning and problem-solving skills to incarcerated and otherwise vulnerable women in the Nashville area. Since 1985, over 1,200 women have been trained to serve as mentors. Together, they have helped over 1,500 women complete the Better Decisions course. Our curriculum is tailored for women with challenging needs and difficult backgrounds, incorporating concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), an evidence-based approach, in our work.

Our Curriculum

Our curriculum was developed with the help of Dr. Milton Burglass, the originator of the decision-making program, and we applaud his dedication to this effort. Also, we credit the Ecumenical Institute with the creation of the curriculum. Its ideas and methodologies form the foundation for the current structure. The Schenectady Thresholds program contributed several years of work developing program concepts and teaching techniques. Like all curricula, this one has been modified over time to meet the needs of participants. It is a living curriculum that changes and grows based on the audience and environment. Everyone who participates--students, mentors and teachers--provides feedback about how to strengthen the curriculum. We are grateful for the input of so many to support a robust program that changes women's lives.

Our curriculum is based on a five-step framework:

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Program Components:
1. Group Classes
2. One-to-One Mentoring

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Group Classes

Classwork provides concepts in an interactive group learning environment, encouraging cohesion and participation. The one-to-one work with mentors reinforces and applies the learned concepts. From experience, we know that some people can hear things in one context and not in another. The same applies to learning. Providing both the group and the 1-to-1 experience gives breadth to the program and increases the chances for a student to understand the decision-making process so she can apply it in her one-to-one sessions with her mentor. The group setting offers additional opportunities for students and teachers to interact in ways that reduce focus on the individual.

One-to-One Mentoring

One-to-one sessions allow students to apply what they learned in class. Students meet weekly with their mentors for an hour. Students and mentors build a relationship based on trust. Mentors listen and help guide students to apply what was covered in class. Students' goals include:

  • teach her ways to make decisions

  • provide her with problem-solving skills

  • show her tools that will help her gain control of her life

  • expand the possibilities for her future.​

Our Partners

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