Meet Michael Haas and Empower.MKE
As a young man, Michael Haas was incarcerated for 9 years. When he was released, he made a promise to God to help other young people. His dream was to provide a path for youth to receive another opportunity that would keep them out of jail and out of trouble, drawing on his own life experiences. He kept his promise then and continues to stand by it today. In 2001, he partnered with the Waukesha District Attorney’s office to begin a diversion program. This was a 14 week educational program for youth between the ages of 14-20 that had been arrested. Once they finished the program, charges against them would be reduced and in some cases dropped. Prior to the development of this diversion program, in order for someone to have charges reduced or dropped, youth would have to stay out of trouble for 6 months which wasn’t an effective program for rehabilitation. In the diversion program’s first year, Michael was able to help over 400 clients. In 2008, Michael stepped away from the program, which was eventually phased out by the District Attorney’s office.
However, this dream still lives on in him. In 2019, the Milwaukee District Attorney came to him and suggested bringing his program to the city of Milwaukee. Michael’s diversion program would focus on youth between the ages of 16-20 with the same concept of their charges being reduced or dropped once the person completes the program. He continues to use the same material from his 2001 program rebranded as Empower.MKE with two notable additions to the program: faith and family.
Michael recognizes that God is the one who changed his life during incarceration, so he knew that Jesus needed to be incorporated into the education material, as well as a component for family involvement.
By the Grace of God, he heard about LINC’s vision to ensure no leader walks alone. He wanted to be brought under what he calls the “LINC umbrella”, and wanted to partner with a ministry that was Christ-centered. Using the Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a High Impact Ministry, Michael has put together a board of directors which includes one individual that successfully completed the diversion program. LINC MKE staff continue to work through this resource with him, guiding him through starting a new not-for-profit ministry. In addition to working with LINC MKE, He is partnering with God Touch Milwaukee and other established organizations, some of which LINC had a hand in developing. This collaborative effort is not only to get the word out about what Empower.MKE provides, but also to have a network in place for his clients to go for continued support after the program is completed. The dream is for his program (with and by the Grace of God) to eventually expand throughout the country, after it is perfected first in Milwaukee. LINC is thrilled to partner with Michael through this journey and even more excited to see how God will continue to bless what he does.