Archive for the ‘Graduation’ Category

Baylor University Certificate in Entrepreneurship

William G. was among the first PEP graduates to earn his Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business

Graduates from the Prison Entrepreneurship Program can now earn their Certificates in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University‘s Hankamer School of Business through a new partnership between PEP and the university. See the official press release here.

“We offer a ‘mini MBA’ program within the Texas prison system that transforms inmates into entrepreneurs,” said Bert Smith, CEO of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). Through the program, the inmates also develop complete business plans for a real venture that they can pursue after release.

During PEP’s Business Plan Competition at the Cleveland Correctional Center north of Houston, these inmates will pitch their business plans over 120 times — including to groups of more than 50 “free world” executives, entrepreneurs and MBA students who attend PEP’s in-prison eventsLearn more in this recent article in The New York Times.

Founded in 2004, PEP is a privately-funded nonprofit that engages executives, entrepreneurs and MBA students as volunteers in a values-based entrepreneurship boot camp that is offered within the Texas prison system. Each year, more than 5,000 inmates apply to be a part of PEP – but only the top 5 percent are selected for this elite program.

“Our graduates invest over 1,000 hours of work into our six-month Business Plan Competition class, which incorporates a college-level curriculum supplemented by Harvard MBA cases, the AP Writing Stylebook, Toastmasters, an employment workshop and a financial literacy course,” Smith said. “In addition, we focus at least half of our time on character assessment and development, built around PEP’s Ten Driving Values.”

“What impresses me the most is how these men not only complete this very rigorous program within a prison, but they do so while completing a full business plan for a real venture that they can launch after release from prison,” said Dr. Gary Carini, associate dean of the Graduate Program in Management & Entrepreneurship at the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business, and a member of the governing board for PEP.

PEP participants pitch their plans before panels of executive judges in a “Shark Tank” format at PEP’s monthly events. The presentations prepare the men for making their case in the free world – including to potential employers once they are released.

“I had been arrested four times before my 21st birthday,” said Harvey M., who graduated from PEP’s Class 10. Harvey is now rolling his first food truck in Houston. “Most of the world had written me off – but not PEP. They gave me the tools that I needed to succeed and even helped me to open my own business.”

Thanks to the preparation that they receive while in PEP, 100 percent of PEP’s graduates find a job within 90 days of release from prison. More than 120 of them have started their own businesses, including at least two that are now grossing more than $1 million in annual sales. And most impressively, the organization boasts some of the lowest recidivism rates in the country: PEP’s three-year recidivism rate has been as low as <5 percent, compared to the national average of nearly 50 percent.

“After reviewing the caliber of PEP’s curriculum and the quality of their results, Baylor University has agreed to award a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from the Hankamer School of Business to every graduate from PEP,” stated Carini.

The partnership began in December 2012, when 70 PEP graduates earned their certificates by completing the PEP Business Plan Competition class and graduating in a full cap-and-gown ceremony attended by their friends, family and PEP executive volunteers.

ABOUT PRISON ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM
Established in 2004, Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) is a Houston-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are servant leaders on a mission to transform inmates and executives by unlocking human potential through entrepreneurial passion, education, and mentoring. Our groundbreaking results include a return-to-prison rate of less than 5%, employment rate of 100% within 90 days, and the successful launch of more than 100 businesses. www.PEP.org

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT HANKAMER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit www.baylor.edu/business and follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Baylor_Business.

teddy bears

Sponsor a bear — only $15!

Class 18 will graduate on December 7th — and the members of “Extraordinary 18” are very excited that hundreds of their family members will gather to watch them cross the stage in a cap-and-gown.

For some, it will be their first time to ever see their children since they were incarcerated.

One of our special traditions at PEP is providing our men with a teddy bear that we purchase from a national retailer at a bargain price of only $15!!! Our graduates decorate the bears for their kids, and give them to the children as an outward symbol of an inner promise to never return to prison again.

Thankfully, past PEP graduates have already sponsored dozens of these bears. But are opening up this opportunity to the community this year so that each child in attendance at the graduation will receive a bear from their Father.

The cost to you is only $15 — but the impact on the child is beyond value.

If you would like to donate please email Info@PEP.org or go to http://pep.org/bears/.

Thank you for your support!

PEP graduationMortar boards. Tassels. Pomp and Circumstance.

For many of us, these words signaled the end of one life and the beginning of another. We crossed the graduation stage to find doors of opportunity opening before us.

Imagine how hard it would have been to open those same doors without a diploma (let alone a college degree). Success would still have been possible, but it is no accident that many of the men whom we serve at PEP did not have a high school diploma before they entered prison.

The odds were not exactly in their favor.

And yet — all of that will change for them on December 7th: when Class 18 graduates from the Prison Entrepreneurship Program!

For many, this will be their first time wearing a cap and gown!

We would love for you to join us for our celebration. The event is from 2:00 until 5:00 p.m. at the Cleveland Correctional Center (just 45 minutes north of Houston).

Invite your friends — HELP US PACK THE GRADUATION HALL!

See you in prison,

Jeremy Gregg
Chief Development Officer

p.s. You can admit it … you’ve always wanted to setup an “out of office” email that says “I can’t reply. I’m in prison!” Well, now is your chance! Click here to join us.

We just posted some of the photos from our Class 17 Business Plan Competition … our Executive Inmates and their mug shots! See the whole gallery here:

http://prisonentrepreneurshipprogram.zenfolio.com/c17mugshots

Check out this wonderful clip from Fox News about the Prison Entrepreneurship Program‘s “Class 17 Graduation” on Friday, June 8, 2012.

Fox News - Prison Entrepreneurship Graduation Day

Click the image above to watch the video, or click here.

Below is a sampling of the congratulatory remarks provided by our volunteers for the Class 17 Graduation from PEP on Friday, June 8:

From Bill Frank, Chevron:

You have accomplished something that very few people will ever do : you’ve permanently altered the path of your life for the better. You now have new skills and confidence to complement your positive attitude. Mix in some humility ( aka servant leadership ) and the community of PEP support and you become an unstoppable force for good. Good things will come to you and you will be a catalyst to enhance the lives around you. Congratulations Class 17!

From Hank Hamilton, TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company:

Gentlemen of Class XVII: William Arthur Ward, a notable 20th century inspirational author once said “Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.”  You’ve all experienced adversity and you’ve all persevered through it. I believe you will each continue to accomplish things you never thought possible.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share in this part of your journey.  It’s been such an honor and such a privilege. Congratulations!

From Michael J Gilbert, Street Level Consultants:

Dear Graduating Class of PEP XVII, Buddha said: “Life is hard, deal with it.”  As you continue forward in life, you will face even more challenges; but none more difficult than this first step. I congratulate you today for your desire at a better life, your discipline and more important, your dedication to improve yourselves. Congratulations to you all. I’m very proud of each of you.

From Allison Schlender, The Coca-Cola Company:

Dear PEP Graduates, Congratulations on this incredible milestone.  You are now equipped with the tools you need to go back into the world and be successful.  Always remember your PEP family – we will support you on your journey.  Your future looks bright – go get it!

From Jonathan Goodale, Convene:

To the graduates of “Celestial Seventeen”: I am extremely proud of what you have accomplished.  You have been in my thoughts and prayers for months.  Thanks to all of you for inspiring me.  I enjoy Christian contemporary music, and a current song is “Where I belong” by BUILDING 429.  Every time I hear the song, and especially the chorus, I think of all of you.

“All I know is I’m not home yet

This is not where I belong

Take this world and give me Jesus

This is not where I belong.”

You men have taken a giant positive step forward – I salute you.  I pray blessings and peace for each of you, well done mighty men.