On March 26th, 2019 I went to the California Correctional Institute, a supermax state prison north of Los Angeles. I was there for cause – a good cause. I was volunteering as part of a “Prison Entrepreneurship Program” that is an employment, entrepreneurship, and personal development training program that helps the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated to become successful, legal entrepreneurs and employees. The program has been around for over 15 years with at least three different organizations in different parts of the country operating. Graduates have an exceptionally low 7.5% three-year recidivism rate (compared to the national average of nearly 50%).
I was there for the entire day with about 50 other business leaders in a room with 65 inmates, or “Mavericks” as the program calls them. In order to attend the event, the Mavericks had to apply to the program and complete all the coursework and attend all the classes. Nobody who applies is turned down, but they must do the work in order to continue through the program.
Because I was just there for a single day I don’t know what all is involved in the coursework, but the Mavericks had spent months preparing for the day by learning interpersonal skills, public speaking, basic business concepts, writing a resume, doing practice job interviews, creating a business plan, writing their life story, and learning how to approach everything and everyone with a positive attitude and energy.