Why a Program for Ex-Offenders?

Our primary aim is to increase ex-offenders’ likelihood of post-release employment, and in turn, to reduce recidivism. We feel that armed with a deeper knowledge of the entrepreneurial process, our participants will enter the job market with an understanding of how firms operate, and the importance and nature of their roles within firms that may hire them. This broader perspective should aid them in finding a job, being more productive once on the job, and eventually, opening one’s own firm.

Over time, our anticipation is that positive work and lifestyle behaviors will build personal knowledge and strength that will help ex-offenders avoid the temptations and pitfalls that lead many back into our prisons. Research indicates that two primary reasons are economic insecurity and challenges securing employment. In some cases, the failure to meet the challenge of transitioning to productive behavior and employment contributes to a return to criminal behavior.

The Goals of this Program

Our ex-offender reentry education program is conceived and designed to provide an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship — the process, challenges and techniques used in the field. We aim to provide University-quality curriculum and instruction, leading to an ex-offender founding and running their own business, and hopefully providing employment to others. This should result in considerable spillover benefits, even to those without direct connection to the prison population. The curriculum we use in this program is based on one we previously developed in conjunction with the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies (see this article for more details).