Archive for the ‘Kickoff’ Category

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:

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.


Prison Entrepreneurship Program Class Tenacious 21

Photos of Class “Triumphant” 21 are now available!

  • See all photo galleries here;
  • See headshots of Class 21 here;
  • See photos from Kickoff here.
It's time to get down!

It’s time to get down!

This Friday, January 24, 2014 we will welcome our newest participants into the PEP family! The event serves as the official launch of Class “Triumphant” 21 in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. This class begins our march towards the next thousand lives that we will transform with your support.

(We celebrated our 1,000th graduate this past December when Class “Tenacious” 20 earned their diplomas)

During this week’s event, we will share inspiring stories of success from our executive volunteers and past PEP graduates. One-on-one time will also allow you to meet our new recruits! The event runs from 11:30 until 5:00pm, and we would love to have you join us. See schedule to RSVP here.

Can’t visit us in prison? No problem! You can still support Class 21 by volunteering as a BUSINESS PLAN ADVISOR. That’s right … you can volunteer by email! Our staff will send you one email per week with a business plan that is being developed by one of of our participants. You will read it, edit it and provide feedback. Most critically, you will also provide market research for our participants (who lack Internet access while in prison).

The entire volunteer project can be done anonymously, if you would like. This is a wonderful opportunity to invest an hour per week in a program that will truly transform lives. Please learn more and register here.

PEP Kickoff in the Gym

Thanks to the tremendous growth in our program, Class 20 Kickoff moved to the gym!

Last week, we had an amazing Kickoff for Class 20 inside the prison. Over 70 executives were able to help us welcome 105 men into “Tenacious Twenty.” We had so many people in attendance that we had to move the event out of the PEP room and into the gymnasium!

After introductions and some preliminary programming, the executives and participants dove into a few hours of one-on-one engagement. Both sides were encouraged to be open and authentic with the other, and the energy filled every corner of the gymnasium with a tremendous sense of hope, love and gratitude.

Here are a few comments from our executives’ feedback forms about the best thing that happened on the day:

“I was inspired by the PEP participants’ stories.”

“A new group embraced hope.”

“Establish personal relationships and make a difference in people’s life. Watch the glow and happiness in everyone’s faces.”

“Seeing someone that was scared to speak get the courage to do it.”

“Great men, great speakers, Holy Spirit present”

“Experience the unparalleled enthusiasm of the participants.”

“Seeing the sincerely and desire to change in the class 20 participants and the appreciation they have for the volunteers/execs. Made me want to come again.”

“First time coming to prison – making connections with all the PEP classmates was incredible and rejuvenating. Thank you!”

“Being inspired by the men and their variety of passions.”

“I loved being able to spend so much one on one time with the awesome men of class 20!”

“It was a blessing to connect with another human being at such a ‘real’ level.”

“Seeing guys genuinely filled with hope that their life and future can be transformed.”

“Having time to get to know new friends.”

“Experiencing the program and seeing the potential in the room. Thanks for helping people to have an opportunity to change and use their talents in a productive manner.”

“Saw a room full of opportunity and new beginnings.”

“Seeing men with a heart that believes a person can change.”

“I was able to get over myself and my issues and let God use me to encourage someone else.”

“Seeing this beautiful program and meeting these amazing men.”

Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Would you like to experience this??? Well, you can! Just go to to learn about our upcoming events and how you can join us.

Rich Lubbers, the first MBA/MDiv (Master of Divinity) student at Baylor University, wrote the following on his blog here … and we just had to share it with you!

This last Friday, I got to be a part of a rather unique trip to Cleveland, Texas with my fellow MBA students.  It was something that I never thought I would do (at least on purpose) as part of an MBA program – we went to prison!  While there, we were able to work with a group of people who are trying to help inmates who will be getting out soon (within the next 1-3 years).  The scope of the program was far greater than I knew before going on this trip, and it seems like a special organization.

One of the things that prisoners get as a result of this program is training in basic business concepts.  Their lives when they get out of prison are significantly more difficult, as a result of their choices that resulted in them going to prison.  However, the way that this program saw it, they wanted to graduate people from the program, as well as from prison, never to come back to such a place.  In providing training in these basic business concepts, the hope was that they would be able to find the kind of job that would be willing to overlook some of their past indiscretions in favor of giving them an honest shot at an honest living.

As a person of faith, I cannot begin to tell you how much this seems to tell the kind of story that I would want to tell.  This is the kind of story of second chances for people who have worked hard to make a change.  Furthermore, I was reminded of all the times when I was young and stupid when I could have been in their shoes.  There, but by the grace of God, go I…

Another item that is addressed in this program’s time with these inmates is that they all put together business plans, looking at profitability timelines, hidden costs, and all of the other things that I still have to learn.  The way that they were already thinking about these things showed me that they were not too far behind me, if not already ahead.  Some of them have been thinking about these things ever since submitting a 20-page essay-based application.  Many applied, but only a few got in.

One of the specific tasks that we did was hear them pitch business ideas.  For ten minutes at a time, 90 of us went face to face with a convicted felon who was just beginning to work on a business plan.  They told us their ideas, we tried to use whatever expertise to help them focus (and sometimes reorient) their thoughts.  Simple.  Easy.  Right?


I feel like I learned something so basic from them.  I’ve heard all of the stories, felt fairly cynical towards prisoners.  But when I got one-on-one, they were just like you and me.  Some told me of wanting to provide for their families, some wanted to lift their families out of horrible backgrounds, all wanted a better life than the one they had chosen up to that point.  The vast majority came from terrible family backgrounds. I couldn’t help but empathize with some of them.  I’m really rooting for them, and I hope to see what they do and contribute to society.

The payoff?  When they graduate, they get a certificate from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.  Same place I get my degree from.  I’m proud of that.

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!