Archive for the ‘PEP Events’ Category

WFAA in Dallas features PEP!

Sebastian Robertson of WFAA in Dallas came to the Estes Unit on Friday morning, March 4th, and captured the story of one of the business plan finalists.

The Power of PEP

Posted: February 23, 2016 by wamjr60 in About PEP, FastPitch, Graduate Businesses

The PEP Softball Team is sporting brand new compression sleeves with the name of the team’s sponsor on them—The Clutter King.  Justin M. is the proud founder and owner of this business, and is an outside graduate of PEP from 2013.

Justin has always been a hard worker, and upon release from prison in 2012 after serving 4 years for a DWI charge, he was hired by his former employer in Houston.  The first thing he did after getting out was to buy a bike at Academy Sports and Outdoors so that he could ride his bike from I-10 and Antoine to 290 and Pinemont to get to his shift.  He started out on the assembly line and had several promotions over 8 months, and moved from the shop to the front office.  He now is in a management role there and oversees all the raw materials that the business buys and uses in its manufacturing process.

At the same time, he saved enough to get off the bike and in a car, and was able to buy it without incurring a high rate of interest on a loan.  In February 2013, he launched Clutter King in his father-in-law’s garage, and he focuses his work on residential reorganizing.  He also joined the National Association of Professional Organizers (www.napohouston.org) and is now a member of their board and assists them with Communication and Technology.  Clutter King was one of the PEP graduate businesses that was a finalist for 2014’s Fast Pitch Day, and he is now growing to the point where he will hire additional employees and or subcontractors to assist him with the business.

Justin’s wife was pregnant when he was incarcerated, and they now have another child, along with his stepdaughter.  They have just bought a home in Hockley, and Justin explains that their life is all about stretching and growing, stretching and growing.  His wife is the Volunteer Coordinator at Goodwill Industries.

His greatest takeaway from PEP is to Keep Going!  He feels that PEP and its brotherhood is a great catalyst for change and an active moving force.

Can free enterprise redeem the incarcerated?

Gerard Robinson, Elizabeth English, Sean Kennedy
February 23, 2016 4:55 pm | AEIdeas

Cleveland, Texas.

An hour north of Houston, over 70 suit-clad volunteers shuffle into a place most fear to enter: prison. Greeted by CEO Bert Smith and his staff, these “executive volunteers” – drawn from Houston’s elite business community – are there to counsel prisoners in entrepreneurship.

Without a dollar of government funds, the Texas-based Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) trains prisoners to start their own businesses upon their return to society. It not only offers education and community within the prison’s walls but also gives participants the tools to succeed in life after prison through re-entry, employment, and social opportunities.

According to Smith, PEP “trains up men to gain a complete understanding of what it takes to run an honest business and build social capital.” That innovative approach, different from your average prison-based program, is already reaping rewards. PEP graduates are dramatically better off than their non-PEP counterparts, being significantly less likely to re-offend and more likely to hold down steady, well-paying work, according to a Baylor University study.

PEP emphasizes that it is “a hand-up, not a hand-out.” Participants are selected from across Texas’s prison system through recruitment and screening. After being selected, they are transferred to one of two prisons where PEP operates. Program participants start a 9-month program that includes a Leadership Academy — a character building course — and a crash course in business and entrepreneurship that culminates in a competition to determine which would-be entrepreneurs’ business ideas hold the most promise. PEP even convenes “Venture Capital Panels”— like in the TV showShark Tank – where executives volunteer to judge the budding entrepreneurs, listen to their elevator pitches, and offer feedback. Upon completing the program, successful participants graduate and receive a “Certificate in Entrepreneurship” from Baylor University.

Astoundingly, the program places 100% of its graduates in work within 90 days of release. Many achieve it much sooner. After 12 years of operation, the program has built up a network of 750 Texas employers that have placed a PEP graduate in gainful employment. The average starting wages for PEP graduates are 60% higher than minimum wage. After 6 months on the job, graduates earn an average of almost $16 an hour.

Learn more:

Though PEP is underpinned by Judeo-Christian values, participants are drawn from all races and creeds. Only men may apply, and above all other qualities PEP looks for in the competitive application process, applicants must demonstrate a commitment to changing their lives for the better.

That shared commitment to building a new life fosters palpable camaraderie among the inmates. PEP participants – most of whom have been wards of the state before – call each other “brother” and consider volunteers and staff “family.” PEP’s “10 Driving Values” (including “excellence,” “accountability,” and “fresh start outlook”) are hung around the room PEP occupies in the prison and shape every activity and interaction. Participants are asked to speak in front of volunteers and other participants regularly. They are also given business cards that they distribute to volunteers with the hope of connecting with them upon their return to society.

Upon release, PEP staff meet the participants at the prison gates and start the re-entry process – acquiring civilian identification, medical insurance, food assistance, and basic necessities like toiletries and clothes for a job interview. PEP also runs transition housing for graduates and assists with job placement and parole compliance.

To date, PEP graduates have started 211 businesses with six of those exceeding $1 million in annual revenue. In addition, the vast majority of graduates stay on the straight and narrow. The latest available data suggests that less than 7% of graduates have been re-arrested in the three years since release— an astonishing figure given national recidivism rates exceed 50% in most jurisdictions.

PEP accomplishes all of this on a shoe string budget of $2.4 million in 2016 with mostly volunteer labor. Ninety percent of its paid staff are PEP graduates themselves.

In many ways, PEP embodies the American Enterprise Institute’s mission of “increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise.” Deep in the heart of Texas, this little platoon of society is serving its fellow man by promoting self-sufficiency, free enterprise, and hope among those society often deems unredeemable.

By believing in participants and empowering them with tools for success, PEP is helping to reduce America’s high recidivism rates – a phenomenon AEI scholars including Robert Doar, Maura Corrigan, and Sally Satel have highlighted in the past. PEP may offer a path out of the vicious prison cycle toward a freer, safer, and more prosperous society for all, beginning with ex-offenders.

This article was found online at:
http://www.aei.org/publication/can-free-enterprise-redeem-the-incarcerated/

 

This year, PEP is very proud to announce that our Houston Employer of the Year is Cedric Hornbuckle … the charismatic leader behind Moved by Love, LLC.

(Cedric is also a PEP Graduate who recently met with Senator John Corynyn to tell him more about his business and the impact of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program).

Here are some photos of Cedric at the 2014 Houston eSchool Graduation Dinner. Cedric was recognized at the ceremony for his many contributions to PEP over the years, particularly his service as a mentor and employer to our recently released graduates.

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Employment Workshop

Employment Workshop

The 22nd Class of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program will graduate on the afternoon Friday, December 12, 2014 (you can learn more about that event here). That day, these men will complete our 6-month Business Plan Competition and earn their Certificates in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University.

We will give them a few days to rest … but then we bring them back for their final event:

The Class 22 Graduate Employment Workshop
Friday, Dec 19, 2014 from 1:00p-5:00p
Cleveland Correctional Center near Houston, Texas
(Learn more and RSVP here)

At this important event, volunteers (i.e. YOU!) will conduct Mock Interviews with our graduates before they release form prison. This is a great way to prepare our guys for the daunting task of answering “the felony question” in interviews. Plus, it gives them one last chance to polish up their happy dances for when they do land a job.

Help us to maintain a 100% employment rate…. RSVP today!

Thanks to the generosity of our dear friend (and PEP Board Member) Britanie Olvera, our upcoming Kickoff Event for Class 22 will be sponsored by Building TEAM Solutions Inc.

The event will be held on Friday, July 25, 2014 from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm at the Cleveland Correctional Center in Cleveland, Texas (about 45 minutes North of Houston). You can learn more about the event and register here:
http://peprsvp.org/rsvp/

From the company’s site:

Building Team Solutions is a Central Texas recruiting and staffing firm that specializes in the areas of Construction, Facilities, Industrial and Manufacturing. With a concentrated focus on these core markets, we take a fresh approach to staffing – keeping in close step with each industry we serve and maintaining long-term, productive relationships with both clients and candidates. Honesty, integrity and dependability drive everything we do, and we love being a valued resource for the people of our community. We’re also the best in the business, offering diverse, flexible options to every client and comprehensive training to our applicants. Temporary staffing, permanent placements, executive recruitment and traveling crews are all on the table… whether you’re an applicant seeking work or an employer looking to hire the most accomplished candidate,YOU’RE our top priority – and we can’t wait to help you build the perfect team!

At the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, we are very proud to have Britanie and BTS on our team!

Check out this video from Britanie on one of our favorite topics … servant leadership.

 

Check out these great photos from the graduation of Class “Triumphant” 21 from the Prison Entrepreneurship Program!

http://prisonentrepreneurshipprogram.zenfolio.com/p103966990

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Have you ever hired someone? Or are you the master of the one-on-one job interview?

If so, we need your help on Friday, June 13, 2014 from 1:00 – 5:00 at the Cleveland Correctional Center in Cleveland, Texas (about 45 minutes North of Houston)!

Employment Workshop

Employment Workshop

Employment Workshop

After our participants graduate from the business plan competition, we give them a week to relax … then focus them on the most critical next step of their transformation: securing immediate employment upon release. After they leave prison, we strongly encourage all of our graduates to secure a job and stabilize in the free world before launching their own business.

This final PEP event, The Employment Workshop, serves as the capstone of our in-prison initiatives. Volunteers offer “mock interviews” as fictional employers. A perfect fit with owner-operators and HR professionals, this event provides graduates with a chance to sell their real product… themselves!

See schedule to RSVP here.

Scott Wesley - Control Alt Delete

PEP Graduate Scott Wesley, winner of the 2014 FastPitch competition

Yesterday, before a crowd of 120 people at the River Oaks Country Club yesterday, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program hosted our first “free-world” Business Plan Competition.

The event featured amazing presentations by three PEP graduates:

  • Clarence Campbell, “The Shine King” (shoe shining and leather care)
  • Steve Gutterud, “Complete Home Innovations” (home renovation and remodeling)
  • Scott Wesley, “Control-Alt-Delete” (tattoo removal)

After a very tough competition, our audience chose the winner …. Control-Alt-Delete, a tattoo removal service that allows people to overcome “tattoo regret” by taking CONTROL of their lives, ALTERING the way they are perceived by the world (and themselves) and DELETING their old tattoos!

You can see photos from the event here:
http://prisonentrepreneurshipprogram.zenfolio.com/fastpitch2014

If you would like to get involved in helping any of our entrepreneurs with their ventures, please contact us today!

Congratulations to the top three finalists in our first-ever FastPitch: ‘Free World’ Business Plan Competition!

Clarence Campbell (The Shine King)
Steve Gutterud (Complete Home Innovations)
Scott Wesley (Control-Alt-Delete)

We had nearly twenty semi-finalists compete in pitch contests over the past few weeks. We were honestly astounded by the intensity of the competition and the quality of the pitches … this was an incredibly difficult choice. Many of the pitches were ready for investments, and we look forward to working with ALL of you to build your businesses.

Here is a photo of some of our competitors and judges in Dallas:

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