In the spring of 2015, Charlotte Ren introduced a new program at Penn, geared towards helping formerly incarcerated individuals become entrepreneurs.
Under her leadership, the innovative program – Penn Restorative Entrepreneurship Program (PREP) – offers a small group of previously incarcerated people 10 weeks of intensive training on how to start and run a small business. Participants are chosen based on survey and interview results and are taught by select students from various schools at Penn. After the curriculum training, PREP provides a support system, including consulting, registration help, funding opportunities, and civic engagement activities, to help budding entrepreneurs turn business ideas into reality.
Valuable as they are, most of the existing reintegration programs have focused on job placement as the main route, but these reintegration efforts have not lived up to our expectations. PREP aims at developing and demonstrating a sustainable and replicable model to effectively transition formerly incarcerated individuals back to the community.
PREP is made possible with the help of field partner, Rescue Mission of Trenton, and partners at Penn, including the Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI) at the School of Social Policy and Practice and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.
Rescue Mission of Trenton, a 100-year-old public charity located in Trenton, New Jersey, provides a variety of support services to formerly and currently incarcerated individuals.
For more information about this program, please click on the following links:
- Penn Current: “SP2 program teaches ex-offenders entrepreneurial skills”
- Daily Pennsylvanian: “Program helps turn ex-offenders into entrepreneurs.”
- The Pennsylvania Gazette: “Entrepreneurship for ex-cons”
- NJ.com: “Rescue Mission of Trenton partners with Univ. of Pennsylvania for ex-offender entrepreneurship program”
- WHYY-FM: “Trenton Rescue Mission and Penn team up for start-up 101 class”