This week, the leaders of the SBA, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and microlender Justine PETERSEN announced the formation of the Aspire Entrepreneurship Initiative, a groundbreaking new $2.1 million partnership to expand access to entrepreneurial education and microloans for formerly incarcerated individuals, with a specific focus on those who are parents. Initial rollout for the initiative is planned for Detroit, MI, Chicago, IL, Louisville, KY and St. Louis, MO.
“Entrepreneurship and small business ownership are proven paths toward wealth creation and financial independence especially for people who might otherwise feel trapped by their circumstances” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “America remains a land of opportunity, a place where we believe in second changes for those who have paid their debt to society. Entrepreneurship can be a ladder of opportunity for citizens who have paid that debt but are still struggling to find employment after incarceration. With the training and startup tools provided through this partnership, these American citizens can finally start to rebuild their lives and restore their relationships with their families and communities.”
“At the Kellogg Foundation we know that children thrive when their families are economically secure,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “It is vital that parent returning citizens have the opportunity to create economic prosperity for their families. One path to that success is creating more opportunities for entrepreneurship by opening access to the capital and training needed for parents to become small business owners in their communities. By giving parents a second chance, we are also giving their children an opportunity to succeed.”
“At the heart of the American dream is opportunity,” stated Robert Boyle, Founder and CEO of Justine PETERSEN, “And the dynamic partnership of the SBA, W. K. Kellogg Foundation and Justine PETERSEN provides the necessary programmatic infrastructure for such opportunity to be afforded and ultimately realized. We at Justine PETERSEN are inspired and excited about bringing entrepreneurial opportunity to returning citizens and their families.”
SBA will oversee strategic planning for the pilot initiative, work with its microlending partners to make capital available for program participants, and leverage its policy research expertise to craft a comprehensive evaluation design for assessing the pilot’s effectiveness. Justine PETERSEN will deliver the intensive, cohort-based entrepreneurial education program and the Kellogg Foundation will fund the pilot initiative and provide matching revolving loan funds and evaluation support. The Kellogg Foundation will also partner with the SBA to produce a white paper summarizing the insights produced by the pilot initiative.
An estimated 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals remain unemployed one year after their release, raising the risk of recidivism and resulting in lost lifetime earnings. This cycle has major implications for American families as nearly half of all U.S. children have at least one parent with a criminal record. In 2015, SBA expanded its Microloan Program to small business owners currently on probation or parole. This partnership expands on that policy change to give parents the opportunity to generate income and create economic prosperity for their families.