Archive for the ‘PEP Supporters’ Category

After serving as the keynote speaker at our Class 19 graduation,  Jeff Smith agreed to join our National Advisory Board. He brings a passion for our mission that is informed by his own stint in a federal prison, as he shares in his TED talk (below).

Jeff Smith is Assistant Professor of Politics and Advocacy in the New School’s Urban Policy graduate program, a consultant on affordable housing policy and prison reform, and a frequent public speaker on ethics in politics. Jeff served in the Missouri Senate from 2006-2009 as the nation’s only white state senator from a black-majority district. He is a columnist for City and State and a contributor to The Recovering Politician, a popular new blog for former legislators. He has appeared on CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Current, and has been profiled by NPR’s “This American Life,” Harper’sThe New Republic, and several other periodicals. He recently gave a TED talk (see here) on prison entrepreneurship, and has published op-ed pieces for CNN, The AtlanticSalonInc.National JournalSalonPoliticoNew York MagazineBuzzfeed, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Examiner, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Steven Hausman triumph commercial

Steven Hausman, PEP Dallas Advisory Board memebr

One of our graduates’ favorite parts of the PEP program is the Integrity Selling component of our six-month Business Plan Competition.

This program was developed — and continues to be taught! — by the dynamic duo of David Rains (President and Founder of Commercial Finance Consultants, the leading recruiting and consulting firm for executive and senior management for the Factoring, Asset Based Lending and Trade Finance Industries) and Steven Hausman (President and CEO of Advance Business Capital and President of Triumph Commercial Finance LLC).

Steven was recently interviewed about his work with PEP by Andrew Rudin at Customer Think, a global online community of business leaders striving to create profitable customer-centric enterprises.

You can read the article here, or a portion of it below:

Unique Entrepreneurship Program Helps People Move Past the Hard Cell

Andy Rudin: In mentoring inmates for selling skills, what is the greatest challenge you have encountered?

Steven Hausman: So much to share and so little time. Given the logistical constraints, we lay out the foundation and challenge the men to apply these principles through practice.

Andy Rudin: On leaving prison, many former inmates must re-enter society carrying labels that are stigmatized. When they start businesses, what are the biggest selling challenges they typically encounter?

Steven Hausman: To be honest, I don’t know—but I can speculate. Every small business and/or start-up has more than a load of selling challenges. These guys have all those plus another full measure associated with their pasts. But, they’ve also been tested by a fire that’s hotter than most of us ever experience. I don’t bet against any of these men.

Andy Rudin: From this program, which outcome or achievement has been most personally satisfying for you?

Steven Hausman: Simply convincing them that selling is a not just an occupation but a life skill. Also, encouraging these men that effective sales communication has nothing to do with manipulation, but rather we honor people by presenting ourselves in a manner that the other person can receive.

Andy Rudin: Over the course of training inmates for effective selling, what have you learned that surprised you the most?

Steven Hausman: Not to judge any books by their cover.

Andy Rudin: In your program, you provide participants the opportunity to test their skills and role play. How do you coach individuals when they struggle? Are there situations in which you find a person “just won’t make it in sales”?

Steven Hausman: Again, we’re not trying to develop salespeople as much as impart basic selling skills that we believe can benefit everybody. So, no—each and every one of them can make it. Do they struggle at times? You bet. There’s always a fine line between criticism and encouragement. It’s like any message—best delivered in truth and love.

Andy Rudin: Top sales achievers are often characterized as patient and empathetic, and able to be highly persuasive verbally. But some of the people you work with have had a violent past, and may not have grown up nurturing these skills. How do you help inmates re-channel difficult behaviors when they are in selling situations?

Steven Hausman: It’s an issue we try to tackle head on in our very brief discussion of negotiations. By the time we see these men, their personal transformations are already manifest. Because of the incredible work that PEP has already completed, it’s no longer a “heart” issue—it’s all about life skills.

Andy Rudin: In 2007, Americans spent $49 billion on incarcerating people, which averages to an annual expense of $21K per inmate. In sales, we’re passionate about “making the business case.” What do you see as the greatest economic benefits of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program?

Steven Hausman: Easy question. PEP works. Incarceration is costly indeed, but it’s the exponential costs of recidivism that are broken. On a personal level, I’m in love with the real, substantive life change which PEP produces. The economic return on this investment makes the value proposition undeniable.

You might be wondering why this matters. After all, jail is jail, right? We need this program and others like it because few can argue that as a society, some of what we spend to incarcerate people could be invested more productively. Instead of paying over $21,000per person per year to incarcerate 2.3 million people, what if we re-purposed some of that money toward education to help some of them become fulfilled, taxpaying citizens?

“Most PEP participants were either dope dealers or violent criminals and many were in raised in disadvantaged situations where education and achievement were not modeled.”With a national prison recidivism rate above 60%, “we need to rethink prison as punishment and begin to utilize it as a place to the end the wicked cycle of crime and addiction.” PEP graduates have a recidivism rate of less than 5%. You do the math. The financial return that comes from every invested dollar provides enormous benefits to society, and a future for those who would otherwise struggle to find a pathway toward a better, more fulfilling life.

We just learned that our dear friend Melvin Maltz has been honored by Texas A&M with their 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award! Check out the bio below from the award page … with a nice shout-out to PEP!

melvin maltz

Melvin Maltz, PEP Houston Advisory Board member

Melvin S. Maltz, Class of 1947, earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas. In 1944, he served in the U. S. Army Air Corps and was honorably discharged in 1946. He reentered A&M to finish his degree in 1948. As a student, he was Cadet Lieutenant of Squadron A, an athletic officer in the Corps of Cadets, and assistant sports editor for The Longhorn in 1946. He was also involved in the student chapter of the Institute for Aeronautical Sciences and the Houston Hometown Club.

After graduation in 1948, Maltz was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1953. He worked as secretary, director and vice president of Century Papers, Inc. from 1952 to 1976. In 1966, he was Industry Group Chairman of the Southern Division of the Paperboard Packaging Council.

Maltz and two partners formed National Inpack Corporation in 1976 and he served as president until the company was sold in 1985. He earned a Broker Securities license and licensed life insurance agent in the state of Texas in 1987. During that time he was a frequent member of the President’s Cabinet of the Acacia Group, earning qualification as a Life Member of the Million Dollar Roundtable. In 2005, Maltz became a member of Silver Fox Advisors and now serves as a senior account manager for the Lone Star Advisory Group, Inc.

Maltz has been an active Houstonian, serving as Masonic Master Mason in 1949, chairman of the Lombardi Committee for the Rotary Club of Houston in 1985, vice president of Congregation Beth Israel and president of Westwood Country Club in 1987. In 1949, he earned the Shriners Cripple Children Cross Crutch Award in recognition for his fundraising efforts for Arabia Shriners Hospital. He served on the Greater Houston Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society from 1974 to 1988—twice as its Chairman—and he was vice president of the Lone Star Chapter National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and director and vice president of Lighthouse Houston. He served on the Texas Division of the American Cancer Society’s Board of Directors until 2003. Maltz currently serves as a member of the Houston Advisory Board of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program mentoring prisoners in business principles.

He has also remained active at Texas A&M, having served as director and president of the Houston A&M Club from 1952 to 1955, Class Agent from 1957 to 1962, Chair of The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors in 1973 and commencement speaker at Texas A&M in 1974. A member of the A&M Legacy Society, Maltz funded a President’s Endowed Scholarship in 1986. He served on the College of Science Development Council, the Planned Giving Council at the Texas A&M Foundation, and as chairman of the Board of Visitors for the Texas Maritime Academy, and vice president and president of the Sul Ross Group of The Association of Former Students. In 1970, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Houston A&M Club. Maltz currently serves on the President’s Board of Visitors for the Corps of Cadets.

Maltz and his wife, Corky, live in Houston. They have seven children, one of whom graduated from A&M, and a grandson who also graduated from A&M.

Monte Pendleton in Prison

Long-time volunteer and PEP Houston Advisory Board member Monte Pendleton


Thanks to supporters like you, we exceeded our goal of $100,000 to meet the PEP Governing Board’s challenge!

Beginning May 1, 2013, we worked to raise these funds towards the launch of our 20th Class. Last Friday, “Tenacious 20” had their kickoff event … and a group of individual donors pooled their resources and put us over the top in remarkable fashion!

What’s even more incredible is that a significant number of donors joined our growing list of monthly contributors. We now have nearly ninety people — many of whom are graduates of our program — making monthly donations by credit card or automatic bank transfer.

We call these monthly donors “PARTNERS.” This is in recognition of their commitment to sustaining our work so that our team can focus on growing our impact.

We are deeply grateful to the many people who participated in this campaign. On top of these gifts, we were also able to raise several very significant foundation grants that will allow us to strengthen our mission over the coming months. Your support of our work is making an incredible difference — thank you!

Together, we are transforming prison!

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!

David Blanchard in prison

Executive volunteer David Blanchard entering prison through PEP

On July 19, 2013, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program will launch Class 20 with one of our largest classes to date!

This class also will mark an important milestone for PEP. Our 1,000th graduate will walk across stage with Class 20 on December 13, 2013!

Your support of PEP will make this possible. Donors like you provide 100% of the funds that we need to deliver our programs, and we could not operate without your gifts.

We have received a challenge grant that will match every dollar that we raise up to $100,000 … but only if we can raise the funds by July 19, 2013. You can turn every dollar that you donate into twice the impact thanks to the generosity of our Governing Board, who are providing this amazing opportunity to PEP.

You can track our progress on this challenge live here,
and also see the contributions from others.

Funds will ensure that these men receive all of the support that they need to earn not only a diploma from PEP, but a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business (see link here to learn more).

It takes around $1,500 to sponsor a participant’s quest for their college certificate. Half of those funds are being put up by our Board of Directors — but only if you help us to raise the other half.

Help us to beat this challenge by donating today!

See you in prison,

Jeremy Gregg
Chief Development Officer

Progress towards securing the $100K match as of 5-22-2013

Progress towards securing the $100K match as of 5-22-2013

You value the work that we are doing at PEP. And since we know that you want us to be successful, we need your help.

Can we count on you for a $10 donation?

Here is some incentive:

Every dollar that you donate before July 19, 2013 will be MATCHED one-to-one (up to $100K). So if you can donate $10 to PEP, our board will donate another $10 — doubling your impact.

Some ways that your funds could change lives:

  • $10 could provide a new Toastmasters book to a man entering our next Business Plan Competition class, helping him to make 120+ presentations of his pitch in front of others;
  • $25 …  financial literacy curriculum / textbook to teach him  how to manage his money after release;
  • $100 … college-level entrepreneurship textbook to teach him how to open his own business after release;
  • $250 … “Fresh Start Kit” that includes a suit, work clothes, toiletries, an executive portfolio for interviews and everything that he needs to get his life re-stabilized after release from prison;
  • $500 … eSchool bonus to reimburse him for investing in his business after earning his second diploma from PEP
  • $1,500 … fully sponsors an incarcerated participant’s quest for their college Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University through PEP

To see who has already donated, please visit


PEP CauseVox fundraising page

Click here to visit our PEP fundraising page on CauseVox

Great news! We now have the ability for our graduates and supporters to set up their own fundraising page to support PEP.

(For example, one of our supporters is getting married and told us that they would ask their wedding guests to make a donation to PEP in lieu of a gift to them. They will be able to set up a page on this site to facilitate all of that at no cost to them!)

Please check it out here:

It takes less than 5 minutes to create your own fundraising page. Here is how:

  1. Go to
  2. Click “Create a fundraising page” (the big green button on the right below the headline “Make a Difference”)
  3. Fill in your email and create a password, then click “Create my fundraising page”
  4. Go to your email’s Inbox and look for the email from “Prison Entrepreneurship Program <>”
  5. Open this email and click the link in it
  6. Login using the email address and password that you entered in step #3
  7. Setup your profile by adding your name/location and uploading a photo of yourself; this is very important so that people know it is really your page, and not just PEP’s page
  8. After this, follow the directions that appear on the screen
  9. Once you are finished, click the link underneath “My Fundraising Page” (i.e. “”)
  10. Then share the link to this page on Facebook/other social media … and also email it to your friends and family and ask them to consider a gift.

Here is an easy goal to aim for: raise $190 … that is, ten gifts of $19 in honor of Class 19. If even a small number of our  friends did this, we could raise tens of thousand dollars for PEP!

Thank you for supporting our movement to transform prisons!

John Harrell PEP

John Harrell entering prison through the “tunnel of love” at PEP!

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we are honored to announced that John Harrell has joined PEP’s Houston Advisory Board!

John retired from Deloitte after 42 years, including 29 years as a partner. He primarily served as the lead client service and audit partner for public and private entities. For 4 years before retiring, John made regular trips to India where the U.S. Deloitte firm has a subsidiary.

He has been married to Diana, who is also involved in PEP, for 44 years. They have two children. They are both Master Naturalists where they enjoy their love of the coast through volunteering in wetlands restoration and other projects. John also plays golf and tennis, and is active in his church as well as Bible Study Fellowship.

John first came to a PEP in-prison event in 2011. He has since been to prison over fifteen times, and has rapidly become a vital part of every PEP class that has graduated over the past few years. His insights during our participants’ business pitches are always insightful, and he has made a tremendous impact on the aspiring entrepreneurs whom he has coached through our one-on-one events.

Welcome to the HAB, John!

nancy white at the PEP business plan competition

Nancy White attending a PEP Business Plan Competition!

As we mentioned last week, we are pleased to announce that Nancy White has joined our Houston Advisory Board!

Nancy is a native Texan who was raised in Fort Worth and Houston. She attended the University of Oklahoma and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fashion design and a minor in marketing.

She started her professional career as a buyer with Foleys Department Store in Houston and then entered the public sector with the Houston Civil Service Commission where she developed and wrote promotional exams for the police and fire departments.  She then joined Timex Corporation in 1980 and enjoyed 24 years as Sales Manager covering a nine state area before retiring in 2004. Nancy was responsible for all sales and advertising for the major retailers and distributors with primary focus on the sports industry and sporting events.  During this time, she also served as a volunteer on the Special Children’s Committee with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 25 years.

Since retirement, Nancy has been a mentor with Spring Branch ISD working with a young girl at Spring Woods High School for the past 4 years.  She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research and have chaired their annual fundraising gala in 2004 and 2011 netting over $1million collectively.  She enjoys playing on two competitive tennis leagues and a golf league.

Nancy is married to Tim White, with whom she raised two daughters. This adventuresome grandmother has not not only been to prison, but she has made a solo flight in a single-engine airplane! She is a member of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church and the Grace Fellowship Sunday School class, which is where she met Monte and Linda Pendleton 8 years ago.

The Pendeltons invited Nancy to attend PEP in 2012 ……and she has been returning to prison ever since! 

Welcome to the HAB, Nancy!