Entrepreneurship Program Launches to Help Formerly Incarcerated in Nashville

4-week class to provide skills and resources for ex-prisoners to succeed as business owners

More than 2.2 million individuals are incarcerated in the United States and more than 620,000 are released from prison annually. Ex-prisoners face substantial barriers to employment that exacerbate economic disparities and contribute to recidivism.

A 2018 study by the Brookings Institute finds the US neighborhood with the highest rate of incarceration is the 37208 zip code of Nashville, with an astounding rate of 14%.

Entrepreneurship is a viable solution for individuals with criminal histories when traditional careers paths are not open to them. Entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to uncover, and redirect their leadership ability, and rebuild confidence to earn a solid income rather than resorting to low-wage employment.

For this reason, the McGruder Family Resource Center, located in the 37208 zip code, is combating recidivism in their community by launching the Restorative Entrepreneurship Program (REP) on February 21, 2019.

“Our goal with the Restorative Entrepreneurship Program exists to equip men and women impacted by incarceration with tools to understand their worth to our society and give them the resources they need to succeed as entrepreneurs,” explained Alisha Haddock, Director of C.E. McGruder Family Resource Center. “It is essential that we serve this population in the North Nashville community because they’re our neighbors. We have to ensure that this population has access to opportunities and economic mobility.  We live in a strong city and it’s imperative that we include everyone.”

REP, a 4-week program offered quarterly in 2019, is designed for previously incarcerated men and women and will provide practical steps to starting a business. Graduates will walk away with a simple business plan, the tools to craft a powerful 3-minute business pitch, and access to local resources to help them launch or grow a business. These resources include 1:1 coaching from experienced small business mentors to help define goals and develop a plan for accomplishing them in a timely manner. Business Coach Mia McNeal, CEO of  The Ceteris Consulting Group and Pathway WBC facilitator, is the instructor for all classes.

REP represents an exciting new community partnership with Pathway WBC, the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, and Catholic Charities all coming together to support McGruder Family Resource Center in the delivery of this programming.

Robert Sherrill, an entrepreneur and community advocate is also lending his support to the program as a guest speaker. “This program is needed and necessary in this community,” said Sherrill. “I know what it is like start on the path of entrepreneurship after facing challenges that threaten your success. The Restorative Entrepreneurship Program will give individuals the tools they need to become successful entrepreneurs.”

The first REP cohort begins on February 21, 2019 from 6:00pm-8:30pm and will run for 4 consecutive weeks. Dinner will be provided during each session. The cost for the 4-week session is $100. REP will be offered once a quarter for the entirety of the year.



Call McGruder FRC staff member, Antonio Briggs, at 615-242-1554 or register online at PATHWAYWBC.ORG/EVENTS