At NO COST to you, The Giving Library will donate to PEP if you:
- Go to http://www.givinglibrary.org/organizations/prison-entrepreneurship-program
- Click “Share Now” to share it on Facebook or Twitter
- PEP gets $5!
At NO COST to you, The Giving Library will donate to PEP if you:
The following was written by a new volunteer to PEP: Kirsten Berger, Certified Life Coach/Speaker, and the founder of Mommy Matters by Kirsten Berger; whose mission is to help mother’s create a better version of themselves through insight, perspective, encouragement and action.
A few days ago I went to prison. Yes, prison. A men’s prison filled with 520 convicted criminals, many of whom committed violent crimes. A fellow coach and teacher of mine recently shared one of his volunteering/mentoring efforts with our class and I must admit that my attention was fully captured when he got to the part in his story that he goes to prison…regularly. As I continued to listen and hear the passion and joy he experiences in this program, I decided right then and there to accept his invitation to join him on his next visit. Although, I was still left with a basic thought-why there? There are many people out here that can benefit from mentoring and coaching, why help ‘those guys’?
Well, first of all, the US has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. The home of the free and the land of the brave can claim only 15 states with smaller populations than the current population of the US corrections system. And aside from the important social and moral issues to be noted about those incarcerated, the financial cost is staggering, 74 billion dollars staggering! Currently it’s cheaper to send a person to 4-year state university than it is to send someone into the corrections system. Which begs the question, does it work? Are we getting a good return on this investment? The answer is-no; we most definitely are not. Approximately 700,000 prisoners are released each year and a staggering 50% of them will commit another crime(s) resulting in their return to prison within 3 years (75% if you live in California). This is clearly a poor investment.
Enter the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a remarkable organization that takes men who are scheduled for release within 1-3 years, and offers them an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and invest in themselves. And let me tell you, this program works! Less than 5% of PEP graduate prisoners find their way back to prison compared to the 50% national average. And perhaps even more astounding is that since PEP‘s inception, 100% of its graduates find a job within 90 days of release. Today, you have a better chance of getting a job out of prison than you do after graduating from an Ivy League University. Whoa!
But, what impressed me most about spending a six hour day with 97 of these PEP prisoners, was the joy and hope each of them embodied amidst what’s considered a place of sorrow and hopelessness. These men are experiencing significance in a way that many of us on the outside have not. We’re all broken, we’ve all sinned, and we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. The great news is, all of us, even those who are in prison, are worthy of forgiveness and a second chance.
I truly enjoyed meaningful, one on one conversations with about 12 men and every one of them had a spark of hope and purpose in their eyes that I can’t quite describe. As the day progressed I recalled a thought I had before I arrived at the prison; this would likely be a day of unease as I attempted to help some of the‘least, last, and lost’ of our society. However, I left the prison with the transformative realization that I was the one who was helped and blessed by those men. Those men who in fact are among the ‘most, first, and found’ of our society.Most, because they were putting everything they had into their work and their transformation. First, because for many of these men, this was the first time they believed they are valuable and first in God’s sight and therefore deserving of this opportunity. Found, because God finds, holds, and keeps all of his creations close-if we believe, accept, and allow him to.
So thank you men of the PEP program! I look forward to visiting your gated community again soon. Thank you for helping me to see prison as not simply a sad, forgotten place of punishment; but rather as a hopeful platform of opportunity.
As Jeremy Gregg, PEP’s Chief Development Officer, put it, “We can’t change a prisoners circumstances but we can help to transform the broken lives that live there into the change that transforms the system.” Agreed. A change that one day might bring a shift in our language from “crime and punishment” to “crime turned disburdenment”.
Thanks to the incredible support of people like you, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program will celebrate its 1,000th graduate next week. We would love to have you join us!
Class “Tenacious” 20 Graduation
Friday, December 13, 2013
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Our photos from Class 20′s Pitch Day are now posted on Zenfolio! See them all here.
Thank you to the many executive volunteers who made this our largest Pitch Day event yet!
The Giving Library, an online video archive that connects donors to nonprofits, is kicking off a $100,000 “Share to Give” campaign on #GivingTuesday, the national day of giving, which falls this year on December 3.
Visitors to the Giving Library website (www.givinglibrary.org) are able to view videos about PEP at http://www.givinglibrary.org/organizations/prison-entrepreneurship-program
BEST OF ALL … if you sign up for a free “Library Card,” the Giving Library will donate $5 to PEP every time you share our videos on Facebook or Twitter!
The process is easy:
Thank you for supporting PEP!
PEP relies upon a network of over 600 volunteers each year to deliver our mission.
This includes in-prison volunteers as well as business plan advisors who serve remotely, but it also includes a growing number of volunteers who serve outside of prison as eSchool teachers, mentors and more.
Below are some pictures of these volunteers in action — providing Thanksgiving meals to our graduates and helping PEP to build a genuine community around the lives of our graduates. Thank you to everyone who made these wonderful events possible!
At PEP, nearly in 1 in 3 donations that we receive is from a formerly incarcerated graduate of our program. Many of them are now registered as PEP Partners, making monthly donations to support our work. For many, these gifts are significant financial sacrifices that they make in order to help their brothers who are still in prison.
To understand what could transform a felon into a philanthropist, we asked several of them: “What are you thankful for?”
May their answers remind you of the many reasons that each of us has to be grateful this holiday season!
Another PEP graduate — David M. — has a business that has qualified for a ZERO-INTEREST loan of $5,000 through our partnership with Kiva Zip. These loans are “crowd funded,” meaning that individuals like you provide the capital for the loans.
These are NOT gifts. You will be repaid each month for two years as David repays the loan (and we are only endorsing him because we feel certain that he will do so).
Better still, if you are new to Kiva, your loans will be MATCHED by a private foundation … meaning that if you invest $100 in David’s business, another lender will match your investment with another $100 (for a total investment of $200 in David’s courier company).
Here is a link to David’s loan page … please consider this amazing opportunity to invest in not only a business, but a transformed life:
p.s. This process requires a PayPal account. This is a free service that allows you to transfer money to others and have them transfer funding back to you. You will put money into your account on Kiva and then loan it directly to borrowers like David, who will then repay you once per month. You can then withdraw your funds at any time or reinvest them in other loans.
The Prison Entrepreneurship Program offers incarcerated men an unparalleled opportunity to transition “from inmate to entrepreneur.” Inside of prison, our participants complete a rigorous 3-month character development program that is followed by a 6-month business plan competition. This process culminates in a cap-and-gown graduation ceremony through which our graduates earn their Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University.
Upon release, they are provided with housing, basic needs and transition support that they need to rebuild their lives in the free world. Once they have stabilized, PEP also supports them in the launch and growth of their own businesses. This includes providing them with the opportunity to secure capital from our partners such as Kiva, PeopleFund and other microlenders.
Since 2004, over 150 of our graduates have incorporated a business. The vast majority are still operational, including at least two that are generating over $1MM in sales. But for most, their businesses are considered “microbusinesses” that provide stable income for them and their family.
Why do these businesses matter?
From PEP’s perspective, there are many answers. First, “felon-owned” businesses are felon-friendly employers (and the lack of employment options is one of the main drivers behind our country’s high recidivism rate). Second, for many ex-offenders, there are few pathways to financial stability outside of self-employment. But third, and perhaps most importantly, we believe that there is tremendous power in giving incarcerated people a “new identity” as an entrepreneur. They are no longer a criminal … they are a producer, a provider, a job creator.
But even beyond the impact on our graduates and other ex-offenders, what is the broader impact of the microbusinesses created by PEP’s graduates?
The answer can be seen clearly in a new study from the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) entitled “Bigger Than You Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusiness in the United States.” Below is an excerpt from that study.
Please feel free to share this study with others. Thank you for your support of PEP!