Prison Entrepreneurship Program

Prison Entrepreneurship Program

Rockwell Fund, Inc. has been proudly supporting the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) since 2011. PEP, founded in 2004, seeks to transform inmates and executives by unlocking human potential through entrepreneurial passion, education and mentoring. This entrepreneurial approach is at the core of everything PEP does. When PEP’s founders realized that former inmates were not being hired due to their records, the founders resolved to equip inmates with entrepreneurial and business development skills as an alternate means of supporting themselves.

PEP employs an “inside-outside” strategy to help transform the lives of men and women and release their potential. PEP provides both in-prison and post-release services to nearly 500 clients per year. The in-prison services include a three-month Leadership Academy where clients engage in character development, followed by a six-month mini-MBA program that culminates in a Business Plan Competition. Upon graduation, inmates receive a “Certificate in Entrepreneurship” from the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business. PEP’s post-release services start as soon as inmates are released – they are met at the gate by their Re-Entry Coordinator. In addition to case management services, PEP graduates receive help with: affordable housing, employment search assistance, continuing education program, and business start-up support services. The continuing education program consists of “eSchool,” a series of lectures where PEP graduates learn about different aspects of running small businesses. At the Communitas Business Center, PEP grads have access to consulting, community, and capital for their business ideas.

In addition to skill-building and character development, PEP offers continuity and a sense of camaraderie that helps PEP graduates when they enter the “free world” by keeping them out of prison and helping them find a stable job. PEP also achieves outstanding results. In 2015, recidivism among the organization’s clients remained very low, at just under 7% (compared to the nearly 25% state average and 50% national average). More impressively, for 5 consecutive years, PEP has experienced a 100% employment rate within 90 days of release. Within a year, 96% are still continuously employed. PEP graduates are able to find higher-paying jobs—50% above the minimum wage—that allow them to make a living wage and support their families.

PEP’s comprehensive approach to supporting and transforming former inmates has helped change the lives of many men and women. Rockwell Fund, Inc. is proud to serve as a partner for PEP and support this work.