UPDATE: The Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba is no longer offering the Curry New Venture Initiative program.


The Delancey Street Foundation

Main Offices: San Francisco and Los Angeles
A unique program run by the Delancey Street Foundation provides a sentencing alternative for judges. Rather than sending a person to jail for a drug offense, or some similar non-violent offense, a judge can choose instead to assign them to work at a Delancy Street-run business. The organization runs restaurants, a furniture-making venture, a para-transit service, and a moving company. Everyone enrolled in the program learns useful trade skills and Delancy Street also has a history of grooming participants to set up their own businesses. With centers in California, New Mexico, New York and North Carolina, the program has grown over the past 35 years into one of the largest business-oriented rehabilitation programs in the country.

Prisoner Reentry Employment Program (PREP)
Headquarters: San Diego
The PREP program enrolls recently released ex-prisoners in job training and a "Financial Freedom" program that features several workshops on establishing a small business. PREP, which an initiative run by an organization called Second Chance San Diego, will also arrange for housing (in a drug- and alcohol-free setting) for those without shelter.


Learning to Earn Project
Headquarters: Marietta
The Learning to Earn Project offers a six-hour class on entrepreneurship and a 12-week course that teaches inmates to become successful entrepreneurs. After inmates are released from prison, the program offers them ongoing mentorship and support. The Cobb County Sheriff's Office developed the project in collaboration with the Women's Business Center at Kennesaw State University, and it is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.


Men's Employment and Business Ownership Program (MEBOP)
Headquarters: Chicago
Sponsored by the Illinois Department of Corrections, MEBOP runs a 10-week Entrepreneurial Training Program, and places participants in apprenticeships at established businesses. The initiative is not prison-based, but more than 60 percent of the clients served have a felony record.
Phone: 312-386-9765


Curry New Venture Initiative
Headquarters: Winnipeg

This 13-week course teaches basic business skills to non-violent offenders and brings them on tours of local businesses. Members of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce provide mentoring support and employment advice, and several local business development services also contribute support. The program is run by the Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Manitoba.


Nurturing a New Start
Headquarters: Grand Rapids
Serving primarily women incarcerated at the Kent County Correctional Facility near Grand Rapids, this program teaches financial literacy and other basic business skills to inmates. Students are also invited to take part in mentoring sessions and monthly networking meetings with alumni of the program and women who own businesses. To qualify, inmates must join the prison's work-release program or live in its Sober Living Unit. The YWCA, Planned Parenthood of West Michigan, and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) jointly run the project.


Rising Tide Capital
Headquarters: Jersey City
This business-training program focuses on the needs of Jersey City neighborhoods, and "markets to areas where many formerly incarcerated individuals live," according to Jay Savulich, who runs the organization's business academy. Clients take part in a free four-hour orientation course designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs strengthen their business plan and hone their ideas. They also meet and network with successful CEOs and entrepreneurs. The most promising participants are encouraged to apply for a scholarship to the Community Business Academy, which offers a 40-hour course in basic management.


See Delancey Street Foundation, in the California listings.


Project Enterprise
Headquarters: New York City
This micro-lending program serves underprivileged communities throughout the city's five boroughs, and works directly with established prison re-entry programs to provide training and support to former inmates. The group runs a 10-week Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, which helps clients write a business plan. Students then receive access to one-on-one business counseling and networking with other entrepreneurs,a and become eligible for those microloans. To date, Project Enterprise has distributed more than $1.3 million in loans to entrepreneurs, and the average loan's size is $2,000. One of Project Enterprise's partners is Hustling Legit (see below), a program that serves upstate prisons.


Hustling Legit
Service Area: Upstate New York
The program, which serves inmates incarcerated at the Bedford Hills facility for women, and the Greene Correctional Facility for men, both in upstate New York, provides business education to inmates and support services to ex-offenders who have graduated from the program. The group also helps ex-offenders who have satisfied a number of requirements-;such as meeting with advisors provided by the SBA, SCORE and SBDC-;to obtain funding for their businesses from various non-profits.


Workshop in Business Opportunities
Headquarters: New York City
This group runs a 16-week workshop called "How to Build a Growing Profitable Business," which teaches entrepreneurial skills to the residents of seven underserved communities in New York City. Former inmates who have been released in the past year can redeem a coupon on the program's website to get the admittance fee waived. The program offers personalized business mentoring and an alumni directory to connect program graduates and prospective entrepreneurs.
Coupon can be found here.


The Five O'Clock Club
Headquarters: New York City
This national outplacement company provides women at the Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan with a 10-week course called "How to Start Your Own Small Business." Inmates learn basic economic and financial literacy, the fundamentals of marketing, and how to develop a business plan. Students can apply for microloans, and for grants of up to $1,000 provided by Project Enterprise (see above) and other groups.


Self-Education Economic Development (SEED)
Headquarters: New York City
SEED's motto is "Each one, teach one." The gorup offers a 36-week course that teaches business skills, business-plan development, market research and web site design to inmates in the Shawangunk and Clinton correctional facilities, among others.


Veterans Behind Bars Program: From Cell to Sell
Headquarters: New York City
This group arranges for certified business advisors to teach classes to honorably discharged veterans who are currently incarcated but are within four years of their release from prison. The goal is to help the veterans draft business plans. Inmates at New York City's Arthur Kill Correctional Facility and Rochester's Groveland Correctional Facility also have access to a basic business reference library.
www.nyssbdc.org See also the Delancey Street Foundation, in the California listings.


Community Success Initiative (CSI)
Headquarters: Raleigh
CSI works with current inmates or formerly incarcerated men and women to provide training in financial literacy and entrepreneurship. It also offers former prisoners mentoring and help finding work. CSI has served some 500 clients since its inception in 2004. The group emphasizes networking between recently released ex-convicts and successful former convicts.
See also the Delancey Street Foundation, in the California listings.


Central Ohio Regional Ex-Offender and Family Reentry Program
Headquarters: Columbus
The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) offers a range of services to women upon their release from Ohio's correctional facilities. Assistance includes help with starting micro-enterprises. Instruction starts with basic financial literacy and progresses to more extensive entrepreneurial training in areas such as bookkeeping, marketing, and developing a business plan. Participants in the program are eligible for micro-loans of up to $35,000.


Training and Supporting Ex-Offenders as Entrepreneurs
Headquarters: Oklahoma City
The keystone of this program is "Owning Your Own Business," a 15-part course taught by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Prisoners are selected for the program based on their grade on an Entrepreneurial Selection Scale test administered by the prison system. After participants are released from prison, the program offers them re-entry counseling and help finding housing and job opportunities.


Leaders under Construction
Headquarters: Middletown
This program offers an alternative-to-incarceration program for young people who have been convicted of drug-related crimes (particularly drug trafficking). Run by the non-profit Freedom Community Development Corporation (FCDC), the initiative works to channel participants' natural entrepreneurial aptitude into legitimate, for-profit business. The FCDC also offers general assistance for the formerly incarcerated, including guidance with child support, driver's license suspensions, aer legal issues.
For information, call (513) 217-4483


Coffee Creek Prison Project
Headquarters: Portland
Women incarcerated at the Coffee Creek Correctional Institution in Wilsonville, Oregon, can take classes to learn how to start a business. Inmates are invited to apply for the program between 18 and 24 months prior to their planned date of release. The program, offered by the non-profit group Mercy Corps Northwest, includes classes, one-on-one help drafting a business plan or a loan application, and referrals for job opportunities related to a participant's entrepreneurial interests.


Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP)
Main Offices: Houston and Dallas
Prisoners at more than 60 jails across Texas are invited to apply for PEP. Those chosen are transferred to the Cleveland Correctional Facility in Cleveland, Texas, where they take part in an intensive program that teaches them how to start a business upon their release. Topics covered include basic finance and marketing. The program culminates with a business-plan competition. PEP also offers inmates mentoring and other counseling related to re-entry and requires students, following their release, to participate in at least 20 classes taught by a group of volunteers that includes top-tier executives, MBA candidates and university professors.

To suggest other programs for the Directory of Prison Entrepreneurship Programs, email ecaroom@inc.com.