PEP Congratulates eSchool Graduates and Executive Volunteers

Posted: October 17, 2011 by Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) in About PEP
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Volunteers of the Year Monte and Linda Pendleton, with Graduate Darrell


On September 27, PEP honored 33 outstanding men: our most recent graduates from eschool and some of the people who help make it happen and inspire us in our work.

These men not only survived the rigors of PEP’s Business Plan Competition while incarcerated, but also persevered for many months after release to fulfill the requirements for graduating from eSchool.

eSchool meets once each week, in Dallas and in Houston, from 7:30 – 9:30 pm.  To graduate, a man must participate in at least 16 classes – and more if he can’t do them consecutively.  Now, every graduate is either employed by someone else or is running his own business.  These classes are all on a work night.  Transportation is NEVER very easy.  And many of the guys life and work some distance away.

We have 4 graduates who did not miss a class, for 16 consecutive weeks:

David Fitzgerald

Fernando Garza

Greg Moore

Joe Rosales

We have 8 guys who have already started their own business :

Anthony Anderson

Armando Flores

Bobby Colombo

Darryl Fitzgerald

Dennis Kent

Kelly Walker

Mareese Lang?

Patrick McMullen


And we have one graduate, Dennis Kent, who drove 80 miles each way, each week to attend eSchool ………….while he was running his own business!

It takes determination and perserverance to run the eSchool gauntlet – all of us (family and friends) should be very proud of these men.

PEP recruits volunteers to teach on wide range of topics of benefit to the guys, from personal finance to life skills to “pure” business.  This effort is led and coordinated by Nelson Duncan, Reintegration Services Manager for PEP.  Thank you, Nelson!

In continuous pursuit of excellence, during the past year, with a project led by Nelson, we revamped the eSchool curriculum in Houston with the tireless, expert help of a team of professionals from Accenture:

Ben Armenta

Jennie Ewing

Amanda Robinson

Natalie Gross

Graham Gordon

In conjunction with the Accenture project, we have also developed an exciting new online community to enable the PEP graduates who do not live in Dallas or Houston to “attend” classes via weekly webcast.  Special thanks to our own Phi Tran, Nelson and Edison Ngyeun.

We are working hard to expand and improve PEP ……… including through eSchool.  Stay tuned, and come back next year!

At this time, I’d like to move on to the conferment of awards.  For the first time, PEP decided this year to recognize individuals or companies in several categories that have added “stand-out” value to our program over the past year.  The winners are:

Entrepreneur of the Year: Brent Taylor, Unique Concepts USA

Brent is the founder of Unique Concepts USA.

Unique Concepts sells specialty vehicle parts and accessories, both interior and exterior, for customized vans, trucks, SUVs, sports cars and other vehicles.  Taking orders by phone, via its website, and through its eBay store, Unique Concepts sells parts made by Sothern Comfort, Regency and many other companies.  Chances are, if you have driven or ridden in a customized vehicle, you have enjoyed parts or accessories of the type sold by Brent’s company.  And over the past 12 months, Brent’s company registered more than $1 mm in gross sales.

But Brent’s entrepreneurial activities haven’t been limited to Unique Concepts:  since his release about years ago, he has also started Team Taylor Investment LLC (which owns and rents 3 real estate properties); Pepi Movers (a moving company serving the DFW area and hiring PEP graduates); and Coin Tech (which he just started, to own and operate coin counting machines similar to Coinstar).  All of this earns him the award for PEP’s 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Employer of the Year:  Fred Fontana, DFS Worldwide

Founded by Fred Fontana in 2000, DFS Worldwide a sourcing company.  DFS represents asset based companies who outsource their sales and customer service functions to DFS.  In doing so, DFS’ customers avoid having to hire, train, replace and retrain staff, and get the benefit of well-supervised, highly-motivated professionals.  Clients come from a variety of industries, including transportation, commercial printing, and energy services.  Over the past 12 months ending 8/31/11, DFS has hired 12 PEP graduates (and others prior to that period).  No doubt as a result, DFS’ gross revenues have grown dramatically:  64% in 2009, 78% in 2010, and 42% so far in 2011.

Volunteer of the Year :  Monte and Linda Pendelton

Our beloved duo has clocked more visits than any other PEP volunteer over the last 5 years.  Tirelessly pouring into our participants and graduates, this couple continues to raise the bar on having a servant-leader mentality.  Dozens of PEP’ers could attribute their success to the support of Monte and Linda, and PEP would not be the same successful organization without their commitment and service.

To see more photos from this event, you can view them on our Facebook page!  (Requires Facebook membership)  While you’re there, don’t forget to “Like” Prison Entrepreneurship Program!  

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