Posts Tagged ‘class 21’

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program will host the Class “Triumphant” 21’s Business Plan Workshop on Saturday, April 26, 2014, 9:00am-3:00pm.

This is a perfect volunteer opportunity for those who cannot attend Friday events, such as our “Selling with Purpose” event the day before (on Friday, April 25 from 11:30 – 5:00pm).

About the Business Plan Workshop
Get your hands dirty while working one-on-one with participants to provide written and oral feedback on their business plans. Combined with the preceding day’s feedback on their personal presentations and business pitches, this is a great way to make good business plans even better!

See schedule to RSVP here.

Graduation is the culmination of nearly six months of hard work by our participants, who were hand-selected from a pool of nearly 10,000 other men across the State of Texas to enter PEP.

PEP Class 21 Graduation
Friday, June 6th
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cleveland Correctional Facility
(45 minutes North of Houston)

PEP is an entrepreneurial “boot camp” that requires graduates to complete over 1,000 hours of work while developing a complete business plan. In recognition of their accomplishments, graduates will earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University (learn more about these certificates here).You can learn more about the overall PEP program here.

Come ready to celebrate their accomplishments as these men open the next chapter of their lives!

To register to attend graduation, click here. PLEASE NOTE that we must have prior authorization for all guests; you can not gain entrance to the prison without completing an RSVP form and securing approval.

To see pictures from the last graduation event, click here.

Whether or not you can attend: Please share your best piece of advice, line of encouragement or favorite quote with our graduates! Click here.

Selling with Purpose

Selling with Purpose

Do you love to sell? Does your heart flutter at the thought of closing a deal or winning a new customer?

If so — the Prison Entrepreneurship Program needs you!

We are seeking a executive volunteers (particularly those with sales experience!) to join us for Class 21’s “Selling with Purpose” event will be on Friday, April 25, 2014 from 11:30am-5:00pm at the Cleveland Correctional Center in Cleveland, Texas (about 45 minutes North of Houston).

Our “Selling Night” event gives our participants the opportunity to present their Business Plan to you as a potential customer. This fast-paced event involves volunteers hearing one-on-one “sales pitches” in a speed-dating format. You then grade the presenters so that they can strengthen their approach over the final months of the program, all in preparation for the ultimate test before graduation.

See schedule to RSVP here.

Volunteers may visit prison up to four times before they are required to attend training through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

This important training is conveniently offered the morning before a PEP event (Class 21’s “Selling with Purpose” event) at the Cleveland Correctional Center in Cleveland, TX. You will learn the “do’s and don’ts” of being a trained volunteer. See schedule to RSVP here.

For those who have been trained in the past

REMINDER … volunteers are required to retrain every two (2) years. So, if it has been more than 2 years since you took this last, you should attend this training (and then stick around to use your volunteer skills at our Selling event).

Of course, if you cannot make it in person, on-line retraining is available for those who have already been trained in person. TDCJ developed this program to encourage and assist volunteers in meeting this retraining requirement. Please click here to learn more.


The following was written by our incarcerated participants. It was originally written for their families, but we wanted to share it with you so that you can get a glimpse of what we do inside of prison… from the perspectives of our participants!


Week 10: Week in Review

Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International

Monday, March 10, 2014 — Toastmasters is evolving and competent speakers are emerging from the woodwork. The level of preparation from the speakers is increasing and the topics are vast and all-encompassing. This is coming from just the second round of speeches; once we reach the tenth round the metamorphosis will be astonishing. Everyone is doing great and the atmosphere is very relaxed as our bond of brotherhood allows us to speak comfortably to everyone present.

a9643c6b3146c8515bd2c53a38dc55b2Tuesday, March 11, 2014 — We have gotten into our groove with the entrepreneurship book. This is our second week in a row with a 90 test score average, a 92 to be exact for today. We have earned our namesake as Class “Triumphant” 21, for we are victorious and always prevail. We have almost reached the halfway mark of our class and I can’t help but think of the mantra for the Roman legions: “In Omnia Paratus,” which means “ready for all things.” By our actions we have proven that we are ready for all things and triumphant in everything we encounter.

Living in the Village by Ryan Mack

“Living in the Village” by Ryan Mack

Wednesday, March 12, 2014— Brian T. has been giving us tons of useful and beneficial information from our readings from Living in the Village. The importance of saving and investing becomes clearer and clearer as our studies progress. I know that we will take the information learned here and apply it all in our lives upon our release. The arsenal of new information we have gotten ensures only one thing: success!

Thursday, March 13, 2014 —We spent a majority of the day engulfed in educational videos. At the end of the day we had Pat M. and Marcus H. give us encouraging words which always recharge our batteries and prepare us for whatever comes our way. An important fact that Pat brought to our attention was that in a few months we will not graduate, instead we will go through a rite of passage. A graduation signifies finality; a rite of passage represents but a single step in a long journey through life.

Friday, March 14, 2014 — Today was a special movie day, as we were able to watch The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. This was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. I got caught up in the characters and their struggles to survive. It kept me guessing all through the movie as to what was going to happen next. In some way, form, or fashion all of us could relate to something that transpired on the screen.

Check out this trailer from the film here:


It’s nice to see the variety of fruit starting to manifest in Class 21 from all the seeds that PEP and all our brothers have been planting. Keep up all the good work, brothers!

Colleen Rickenbacher teaching etiquette in prison

Author Colleen Rickenbacher teaching etiquette in prison

WOOHOO! Some awesome photos are now available from Class “Triumphant” 21’s most recent event … Excellence in Etiquette, featuring the truly inimitable Colleen Rickenbacher (a.k.a. The Necktie Assassin).

We are grateful to our dear friend Genie Erneta for sponsoring this event (including the best meal served this year within the Cleveland Correctional Center)!

See all of the photos here:

Charles H. and Fabian M. of PEP Class 17

Brothers from other mothers — Charles H. and Fabian M. of PEP Class 17

“What is the secret to PEP’s success?”

People all over the country ask us that question. They have heard about the Prison Entrepreneurship Program‘s unprecedented results and want to learn how they can replicate them in other states.

Many ask us to share our curriculum or to tell them how we successful recruit hundreds of executive volunteers to join us in prison. Others ask about the impact of the remarkable public-private partnership that we have formed with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or the academic partnership that we have formed with Baylor University.

These things are important, we tell them, but they are not the primary cause of our impact.

Without question — the source of our strength lies in the culture that we have created through the hearts and the hard work of our participants. The brotherhood that our participants form inside the prison is our strongest tool in rebuilding lives.

Today, we had a great reminder of the impact of this brotherhood.

Charles H. and Fabian M. were both graduates of PEP’s Class “Celestial” 17. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, they overcame the harsh racial divides that are typical inside of prison and became friends. Indeed, their friendship became such a source of strength that both men were named finalists in our Business Plan Competition.

Fabian was even profiled on national Fox News when he won that competition.

Since their release from prison, both men have re-established their lives. They have not only remained friends, but both are now loyal donors to PEP. And today, we are humbled to share that they have jointly committed to a $1,000 sponsorship of the Class 21 Business Plan Competition and Graduation on June 6, 2014.

Their gift will support the families of PEP participants whom they have not even met. Their only bond is the PEP Brotherhood that Charles and Fabian helped us to form, and which their continued commitment allows us to strengthen.

Thank you, Charles and Fabian, for your inspiring lives!

If you would like to attend the Class 21 graduation in prison to meet the families whom Charles and Fabian have sponsored, RSVP here.

The following was written by our incarcerated participants. It was originally written for their families, but we wanted to share it with you so that you can get a glimpse of what we do inside of prison… from the perspectives of our participants!


Week 9: Week in Review

smellyMonday, March 3, 2014 — After the furious pace of the past few weeks, it almost seems that we have hit a spot of smooth sailing. Is it the calm before the storm? Possibly, as this week will reveal the results of our character assessments. I can share from experience that it’s not always easy facing the character quirks others see in us. However, as all of those events began to unfold, we enjoyed another great day at Toastmasters.

I would like to give special recognition to four guys for the exceptional way in which they have grown during our brief tenure in Toastmasters. Geoffrey M., Rolando T., Clayton B., and Francisco M., your brothers would like to give you a public pat on the back. The transformation we are witnessing is remarkable. Here’s a Toastmasters toast to you. And may I also say that Michael G. should change his business plan to stand-up comedian. Michael gave a speech on the five levels of stench that had us all in stitches.

CHocolate Truffles Chocolate Truffles… Yummmm….

Tuesday, March 4, 2014— Freezing rain and slick streets couldn’t keep our CEO and business professor Bert S. (a.k.a. Chocolate Truffles) away. We were first tested on types of funding and basic accounting. Then Bert segued into another exciting lecture on marketing, pricing, and promotions. He also shared with us the incredible news that PEP will soon be launching another class at another unit in Texas. The PEP revolution is gaining momentum.

Cruella de VilPast graduate “Cruella de Vil” is a peer educator in PEP

Wednesday, March 5, 2014— As one-on-one feedback on our character assessments continued, we were business as usual with peer educator Brian T. leading us in a presentation on personal finance. We discussed eliminating high risk debt and properly utilizing credit cards while maximizing our credit score. We also discussed how to establish and meet our retirement goals. I think we all left with a much greater appreciation for IRA’s, 401(k)s and mutual funds. In fact, I dare say we are all starting to see that creating personal wealth is a very doable process; it’s just a matter of knowledge and discipline.

Thursday, March 6, 2014 — Today we watched videos on American history and applied biblical values, as well as a class favorite: the Swagger Wagon. If you haven’t seen the Toyota commercial entitled “Swagger Wagon,” I suggest you click here and check it out. I promise that you will never view the family mini-van the same. It never fails to leave us with a smile and our minds awhirl with ideas of how to spin our own products and services into a more favorable light.

You can also check it out here:


Friday, March 7, 2014 — After a short recap of the character assessment by our fearless leader, Pat M., we were given the day off. Yea! However, I suspect that we will spend a lot of time processing the feedback we gained from the character assessment with each other, which is probably the whole point of the exercise. Just as one must open up an old, festering wound to properly treat it and begin the act of healing, so are many of us right now. We are experiencing growing pains; but make no mistake, we are growing, and after all, we are TRIUMPHANT 21!!!!


Class 21 is going through a process that is very grueling, and I hope and pray that we all continue to look at our lives on a daily basis to identify what we really need in our journey of change. Because when you require restored hope and a new identity, you have to search for and plant new seeds so your life’s harvest will be bountiful and not pitiful. Identity is not something that is realized, it is something that results from decisions we make for ourselves and the individuals we place in our support system.

The following was written by our incarcerated participants. It is intended primarily for their families, but we wanted to share it with you so that you can get a glimpse of what we do inside of prison… from the perspectives of our participants!


Week 7: Week in Review


PEP Participant Andrew W. Using his Toastmaster Skills to Speak to Executive Volunteers at PEP’s Concept Day (click for other pics from the day)

Monday, February 17, 2014 — Today was Toastmasters as usual, yet that’s not entirely true. Why? Because there was a calm that settled in and that made these Toastmasters whom I saw today scarcely resemble the “fraidy cat” versions seen earlier in class. Men laughed, smiled and delivered speeches with a new confidence. It really was a sight to behold. I don’t think any of us dared to believe that we could actually become competent public speakers, but week by week we actually see the miracle taking place — truly amazing.

Math is fun... :(

Math is fun… 😦

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 — Today was perhaps the most dreaded Tuesday of all: we were given our tests on EOU’s (economics of one unit). Basically, we needed to calculate our profit margins on one typical unit of sale and use that information to determine things like gross profit, breakeven points and net profits in various business scenarios. For those born without the math gene, gulp! True to form, the EOU test gave nearly two thirds of our class extra homework (more EOU’s). One way or the other, we’ll get them down, for we are TRIUMPHANT 21.

The Refining Fire of PEP Continues Its Work in Our Lives

The Refining Fire of PEP Continues Its Work in Our Lives

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 — Peer educator Bryan Troy (a.k.a. Cruella De Vil) led us in a fascinating recap of a couple of chapters in personal finance. We learned about how much a daily cup of coffee saved at an 8% rate would be over 20 years. Suffice it to say, a cup of Starbucks a day keeps a dream home away! We also had a “town hall meeting” to address a growing weariness in us from all the assignments, tests and homework. We were told that we are trudging the same difficult stretch that all previous classes have bogged down on as well, and we were encouraged not to lose heart. The heat of the refining fire is doing its work and it’s not always comfortable. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But it’s not, so only the proud few band together as brothers to unite and see each other through PEP style.

As-Iron-Sharpens-Iron1Thursday, February 20, 2014 — Let’s call today prep day. We mainly practiced our 3- minute pitches on each other in preparation for presenting them in front of a panel of executives tomorrow. Memorizing the most important 3 minutes worth of our business concepts and delivering it passionately and flawlessly to a panel of experts strikes the fear of God in most of us. We needed that practice, because iron sharpens iron.

Class 21 VCP

Class 21 Participant Receives Feedback on His Pitch From Executive Volunteers. Click to see more photos from the day!

Friday, February 21, 2014 — Oh my word! What a day! Class 21 took turns presenting pitches to a panel of executives (think Shark Tank) in an event called Venture Capital Panel (VCP). While butterflies certainly swarmed our bread baskets, the word I would use to summarize the day would be COURAGE. Triumphant 21 stepped up to the plate and delivered despite the fear, displaying courage I’m not sure we knew we possessed. We changed today, but we weren’t alone. The bewildered look upon the faces of the first time executives said it all. Prison isn’t supposed to be like this. Today we experienced life, abundant life. (To see photos from the day, click here.)

Class 21 Concept Day

A group of Class 21 Participants with some of the MBA Volunteers for Concept Day. Click to see more photos from the day!

Saturday, February 22, 2014— Would Concept Day live up to the emotional peaks we scaled only the day before? All we had to do was fasten our seat belts to see. We were visited by a bevy of Texas A&M students as well as several young teachers from Teach For America, and of course some executive “repeat attenders.” Again we met one-on-one to hone our business concepts, and once again hearts collided. It’s hard to tell who impacted whom the most. The excitement really began when we gave our repeat attendees their sweet names (for the men) and tough names (for the women). Now they are truly one with us, part of the PEP family. Just ask Mike, whom we now call “Precious Moments.” (To see photos from the day, click here.)


PEP Class 17 Graduate Roger R

PEP Class 17 Graduate Roger R. is one of our awesome Peer Educators who Volunteers to Guide Class 21

As the days grow long and weeks get shorter, stay consistent with your studies and learn from all your endeavors.  For the road less traveled is the one traveled by courageous men we call PEP brothers.

-Roger R. (a.k.a. Rainbow Bright)

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.