Posts Tagged ‘PEP graduation’

Great news — The Philanthropy Roundtable and its members are coming to prison to visit PEP on February 27, 2012! Their event, “Charting a Path from Criminality to Opportunity,” will share innovative solutions to the growing problem of incarceration and recidivism… including the Prison Entrepreneurship Program!


About this organization:

The Philanthropy Roundtable is a national association of individual donors, corporate giving officers, and foundation trustees and staff. The Roundtable attracts philanthropists who benefit from being part of an organization dedicated to helping them achieve their charitable objectives. In addition to offering expert advice and counsel, the Roundtable puts donors in touch with peers who share similar concerns and interests. Members of the Roundtable gain access to a donor community interested in philanthropic strategies and programs that actually work.

Learn more here.

Class 18 Graduation

Class 18 Graduation

Please take a moment to read the following letter from the mother of one of our Class 18 graduates:

I am writing this letter to express my sincere thanks for what I was able to witness on Friday, December 8, 2012 at the Cleveland Unit. I often think back on the day my son went into custody and the day he stood before the Judge, how I felt. Surrounded by my family and my Pastor, prayers began to go forth.

From that day forth I spent many sleepless nights worrying and asking God to take of “my Child”. Yes, I know he is a grown man but he is my only son.

Growing up in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and still attending and being very active, I had to realize God did not need my help for this path was chosen to direct my son’s thinking.

I heard many things during the PEP conference call and on Friday, December 8, that made me realize he must take these next steps on his own. I truly believe his surroundings the past 5 to 6 months showed him a different look at himself and what he needs to do and be about.

To know that there are men and women that are truly concerned about people who are incarcerated is eye opening.

To see the proud faces of not only my son but the other men was incredible.

The PEP Program deserves all the accolades and accreditation it receives as I know it was a blessing to my family and my son. Everyone was so appreciative and excited about everything that had gone forth.

Again, I thank you for being concerned.

— Tara M., Mother of a Graduate from the Extraordinary Class 18


Help us raise $40,000 to secure a $40,000 match!

PEP just graduated our largest class yet — over 70 men earned their diplomas from PEP on December 7, 2012.

For the first time, these men also earned Certificates in Entrepreneurship from the Baylor University‘s Hankamer School of Business. These are college certificates provided in recognition of all that these men accomplished through PEP’s 5+ month Business Plan Competition.

And we’re not slowing down… another 140 men have been recruited for Class 19 that begins in January, 2013!

In celebration of this growth, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program’s Board of Directors and Advisory Boards have collectively committed a challenge grant of $40,000 to PEP . . . meaning that every dollar that you pledge/donate between now and December 31, 2012 will be matched!

But we need your help to raise the $40,000 match.

To donate online today, please visit:

To donate by mail, please make your check payable to PEP and mail to:

Prison Entrepreneurship Program
Attn: Donation
P.O. Box 926274
Houston, TX 77292-6274

If you would like to make a pledge payable in 2013, please contact PEP’s Chief Development Officer, Jeremy Gregg, at or (214) 727 – 9829.

Thank you for supporting PEP!

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 or go to

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).


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.

amerisource fundingIt is official!

Thanks to the lead sponsorship from Amerisource Funding, our 2012 eSchool Graduation is officially sold out!

At this graduation, we will honor over 30 men who began transforming their lives while still behind bars through PEP‘s in-prison Business Plan Competition. After their release, these men reestablished their lives in the free world and dedicated themselves to continuing their education through our weekly Entrepreneurship School (eSchool) in Dallas and Houston. We are now celebrating their completion of this second step in their journey from inmate to entrepreneur.

We are pleased to announce that our keynote speaker will be Ryan Mack, author of “Living in the Village” and frequent contributor to CNN, BET and others. You can learn more about Ryan Mack here.

Thank you to our event sponsors!

Lead Investor
Amerisource Funding

Venture Capitalists
The Energists
Stellus Capital Management
Judy & Jon Goodale

Angel Investors
Alex Anaxagoras and Genie Erneta
DFS Worldwide
Marcia & Bill Frank
JITA Printing
Silver Fox Advisors
Pam & Phil Rundle
* Purchased two tables

ryan mack

Learn more about the event at

Prison Entrepreneurship Program Announces National Financial Expert
Ryan Mack to Deliver Keynote Address at Graduation Ceremony
The author of “Living in the Village” will speak to a crowd of executives,
entrepreneurs and former inmates this October

Houston, August 20, 2012 — Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a business boot-camp that teaches qualified Texas prisoners real-world business skills, announces that national financial expert Ryan Mack, author of Living in the Village and President of Optimum Capital Management, will deliver the keynote address at the organization’s 2012 eSchool Graduation Dinner, presented by Amerisource Funding.

“Mr. Mack brings a message that strongly complements PEP’s mission to transform tax consumers into contributing members of society,” says Jason Floyd, Managing Director of Amerisource Funding. “We are honored to bring him to Houston to help us celebrate the accomplishments of PEP’s graduates.”

Mr. Mack can be regularly viewed on television networks such as CNN, CNBC and BET discussing economic issues that impact American citizens. After his presentation, diplomas will be presented to over 30 graduates of PEP. These men are former inmates who began transforming their lives while still behind bars through participation in PEP’s financial literacy training, character development programs and business plan competition.

“After their release, these men reestablished their lives in the free world and dedicated themselves to continuing their education through our eSchool (Entrepreneurship School) program that meets every Tuesday evening in Dallas and Houston,” explains Bert Smith, CEO of PEP. “We are now celebrating their completion of this second step in their journey from inmate to entrepreneur.”

The event will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at Houston’s Downtown Club at Plaza.


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. For more information, visit

About Amerisource Funding:
Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Houston, Texas, Amerisource is one of the largest and fastest-growing independent commercial finance companies in the country.  Amerisource provides working capital financing and outsourced receivables management to small and middle market companies with financing needs from $50,000 to $10,000,000.  Core products include asset-based lending revolvers, accounts receivable factoring, seasonal bank “over-lines”, outsourced A/R, credit and collections management, debtor-in-possession (“DIP”) financing, trade finance for importers, and export factoring. Amerisource also provides portfolio management and servicing for banks through its private label program America’s Back-Office for LendersTM, portfolio acquisitions and liquidations.  For more information, visit

PEP GraduationAll gifts are precious to PEP, but those that come from our participants and their families are especially meaningful. Each year, PEP receives thousands of dollars in donations from the men whose lives have directly benefited from PEP’s work. Their commitment to sustaining our mission is a true inspiration to our whole team.

Lately, we have also been humbled by the generosity of our participants’ families. One of our faithful monthly donors is a woman whose husband recently walked across the Class 17 graduation stage. When we thanked her for her gift, she replied:

“The PEP graduation was the most special, warm, thoughtful, genuine, love-filled, spirit-filled and emotional public gathering I have ever experienced. I felt the presence of God in that place & through the wonderful PEP family. My goodness, I could not get over how each person was treated so well and with so much integrity. I LOVED seeing men love and support each other with no egos in the way. I fought back happy, joyful, peaceful tears during the whole ceremony. I left feeling SO INSPIRED! PEP has not only changed my husband’s life but it has changed mine, as well. How can I ever say thank you enough!?”

Thank you to each of you for making such stories possible!

PEP Family Reunification Program

PEP’s Family Reunification Program works to maintain relationships between our participants and their loved ones throughout their incarceration.

We just received this great note sent from the wife of one of our current participants in Class 18. These are the kinds of comments that add fuel to our fire for growing the impact of PEP!

“I have one word that describes the PEP Program….A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! What a fantastic program you and your staff of volunteers are providing to help better these men’s lives and of course, mine and (my husband’s) life. This transformation is going to be life changing and for thatwe are so blessed and so thankful.Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

RKI letter from Tom Rawson.pngEvery year, thousands of people hear about PEP for the first time. Many are intrigued by the story, but are understandable hesitant about how they can get involved — after all, most of us spend more time trying to stay OUT of prison than finding a way to get in!

Here is a great letter from long-time PEP volunteer, donor and friend Tom Rawson. Tom is the CEO of RKI, Inc and he offers this letter for people who are unsure about whether or not they want to come to prison:

To potential executive volunteers:

I am a regular volunteer at the Prison Entrepreneurship Program in Cleveland, Texas.

PEP is a unique program that finds men in the prison system who are totally committed to changing their lives for the better, and gives them the tools (partly through the use of volunteers as examples) that they need to be successful in their transformation. The men go through an intensive MBA type training, and design a business plan for themselves to deploy, when they get out of prison.

This program works.

Ask any staff member of PEP for the latest amazing statistics.

Why volunteer? I’m very busy running my own business, and I don’t need things to keep myself occupied, but I am a regular participant at PEP volunteer opportunities.

Accepting the challenging to interact with these guys as they pull themselves up, and begin to build a positive future for themselves and their families, is a very highly stimulating and uplifting experience. It is one of the few things in life that you really do have to participate in to understand.

PEP changes lives for the better, both for the volunteers, and for the men participating. I urge you to treat yourself to an amazing experience, and at the same time help someone to have a chance to make themselves a peaceful and meaningful life.

I have never met anyone who wished that they hadn’t participated.


Tom Rawson
RKI, Inc