MBA News: UVA and Baylor Students Coach Inmates on Entrepreneurship

The state of Texas offers hardened criminals a second chance by connecting them with volunteer MBA student coaches. The Houston-based nonprofit Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) is designed to teach prisoners vital entrepreneurial and business skills. According to the Financial Times, students from Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business work one-on-one with assigned inmates, advising them on how to develop business plans by giving them feedback via email. The program has inspired similar programs nationwide, including at the University of Virginia, where, according to one professor, more than a dozen MBA student volunteers from the Darden School of Business gain firsthand experience teaching prisoners and, in turn, learn about the social, institutional and economic challenges they face upon release. At the culmination of Texas’s PEP, the prisoners receive a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from the Hankamer School of Business, giving former convicts a leg up in their job searches. The program has been widely successful, with more than 800 inmate graduates—every one of whom found employment within 90 days of their release, and 106 of whom started their own business ventures.

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