Archive for the ‘This Week in Prison’ Category

Phillip D, PEP Graduate and Winner of the Class 20 Business Plan Competition

Phillip D, PEP Graduate and Winner of the Class 20 Business Plan Competition

On Friday, December 13, 2013, over seventy men walked across the graduation stage at PEP. Among them stood the 1,000th graduate to earn a PEP diploma!

Please take a moment to celebrate this momentous occasion by looking through the family portraits with the graduates. Hundreds of family members were joined by a large group of PEP’s executive volunteers who were there to cheer for the graduates of Class “Tenacious” 20! Several of these volunteers serve as “honorary family members” for the men whose families did not attend the ceremony.

See the first round of photos here:

This week in prison, Class 21 also completed our Prep Class (the precursor to the full Business Plan Competition that they will start next month). We also completed our “peer panels,” the final evaluations of prospective Class 22 participants. These evaluations are conducted by PEP’s graduates who are in the “servant leadership” phase of their work with PEP … sowing back into the program as our volunteer leaders before they are released from prison.

Class 21’s Kickoff is on Friday, January 24, 2014 from 11:30 am – 5:00 pm. If you would like to join us, please register here.

See you in prison!

Cheri Chafin Garcia Prison Entrepreneurship Program

PEP volunteer Cheri Chafin Garcia leads the other executives into prison!

The air is electric in the PEP office this week as we get ready to welcome another 105 men into our organization later this week. On Friday, July 19 we will host the Class 20 Kick-off at the Cleveland Correctional Center in Cleveland, Texas!

We would love for you to join us! Help us welcome our newest participants into the PEP family as we share inspiring stories of success from executives and PEP graduates. One-on-one time will also allow you to meet our new recruits! You can learn more and register at

We are also VERY happy to share two more amazing galleries of photos from our recently completed Class “Noble 19” Business Plan Competition. Check out the images of our over-achieving underdogs hard at work, duking it out in multiple rounds of an intense competition … at the end of which, none of our four finalists asked to be named winner. “We are all winners,” they declared to the enormous crowd of executives who joined us as judges:

Day 1 (Prelims and Semifinals):

Day 2 (Finals):


Our incredible photographer just added about 200 more pictures to the graduation gallery. Check out these uplifting images of families reunited, futures reformed and lives reborn through the power of PEP!

Thank you for your support of PEP. Only a couple of days left until we announce our final total towards the $100,000 challenge … have you made joined us yet?

I Flip for PEPLots going on this week at the Cleveland Correctional Facility … including the launch of Class 20 of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program!

Today, we host our Internal Kickoff event. Most of the nearly 110 men who are entering PEP have been connected to us for months, including our three-month “Prep Class” called Principles of Effective Leadership. 

Today’s event is a celebration of their entrance to PEP with our staff and graduates from past classes. The event that is decidedly NOT like the typical prison experience, as the room is decorated for a party and the atmosphere is one of fun, fellowship and hope!

This is all in preparation for our official Kickoff on July 19, 2013. You can learn more about this event, and register to attend, here:

You can also see photos from the last class’ kickoff event here:

This week also marks the two-week countdown towards our fundraising campaign. As we announced a month ago, we received a challenge grant of $100,000 that will match EVERY DOLLAR that you donate between now and our July 19, 2013 kickoff.

Your gift of $100 will instantly become $200 through this campaign.

To learn how you can double your impact, please visit our campaign site:

Together, we can transform prison!

Class 18 Pitch Day

See photos from last class’ Pitch Day

Last week in prison, our participants had a busy week that included our CEO Bert Smith delivering a lecture on Investments, a test on the Human Resources Management chapter from “Entrepreneurship: A Small Business Approach,” a continuation of their prior discussions on the Harvard MBA Case Study on Enron led by our Governing Board Chairman Mike Humphrey and another section of the Employment Workshop.

The latter is focused on helping them to find a job and build a career once they are released; while nearly 30% of our graduates eventually start their own business, almost all of them focus on finding a job as soon as they are released. We believe that our entrepreneurship boot camp is a strong preparation for their careers, since many will end up working in a small business for an entrepreneur. Our graduates’ understanding of what it takes to build and grow a successful small business makes them stand out as employees, which is why 100% of our recent graduates have landed a job within 90 days of release from prison.

This week, our participants will continue the Employment Workshop inside the prison. They also have their first tests over Part 1 & Part 2 of their reading of “Crime and Punishment” by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This week, we also have two courses on World History that our men will complete in addition to their regular work with Toastmasters, Men’s Life and Leadership Development.

But the apex of the week arrives on Friday, when nearly 70 business leaders will join us in prison to for the Class 19 Pitch Day! Participants deliver their business plan presentations as a practice session before the Business Plan Competition. We tell our judges to “Get ready to be impressed!”

Our executive volunteers will ask tough questions and provide feedback that will prepare these men to make the final improvements in their business plans before the finals on June 7!

See photos from last class’s Pitch Day at

All of this preparation culminates on June 6 and 7, when PEP launches its 19th Business Plan Competition in prison.

Learn more about these events here.

See you in prison!

The college textbook PEP uses in prison

The college textbook PEP uses in prison

With two major BPC events on Friday and Saturday, this is a really big week in prison for Class 19!

This afternoon, our CEO Bert Smith will cover another new chapter in “Entrepreneurship: A Small Business Approach.” This week, we discuss Chapter 14: Franchising and Purchasing an Existing Business. This is one of the final lessons that our participants receive on their path towards securing a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

On Friday, over 60 executives have registered to attend the “Selling with Purpose” event where our participants will pitch them one-on-one in “mock selling” presentations. The executives get to set the scene for the role-playing (i.e. “we are sitting next to each other at a little league game, and our kids are on different sides of the ball.”), and then our participants have 10 minutes to begin a conversation that leads to them either closing the deal or booking an appointment for a follow-up.

See photos from last class’s Selling with Purpose event at

The very next morning, our participants return for Business Plan Workshop … and they will be greeted by one of our largest crowds EVER for such an event — over 70 executives! The participants and executives will share valuable one-on-one time, during which the participants share the feedback that they have received on their presentations/business plans so that the executives can help them to improve their pitches. This is all aimed towards strengthening the initial presentations that our participants will make at their May 17 “Pitch Day” event.

See photos from last class’s Business Plan Workshop at

All of this preparation culminates on June 6 and 7, when PEP launches its 19th Business Plan Competition in prison.

Learn more about these events here.

See you in prison!

PEP Selling with Purpose

Executives offering one-on-one advice to our participants during PEP “Selling with Purpose” event

It’s another big week in prison as Class 19 prepares for the “Selling with Purpose” event on Friday, April 19 and the “Business Plan Workshop” event on Saturday, April 20. These back-to-back events provide our participants with valuable one-on-one time with some of the strongest executives and entrepreneurs in our network as well as the fresh perspectives of dozens of MBA students who are planning to attend these events.

(Learn more about these two events here)

Building on last week’s “Integrity Selling” program, this week’s in-prison initiatives include two special presentations:

  • PEP’s Board Chairman, Mike Humphrey, will present the Harvard MBA Case on “International Fighting League
  • PEP Volunteer Rory Saleh will be lead a half-day session on sales and marketing


The guys also have quite a bit going on this week through their regular programming:


We are also pleased to report that, while it is an optional program that is not required for graduation, we have around 90 participants who continue to participate in our twice-weekly Men’s Life program.

While all of this is going on, our staff and past graduates continue our work with prospective members of Class 20 (which kicks off in July).

Thank you for continuing to support our efforts!