America has a disproportionately high number of prisoners relative to our population. While we make up approximately 5% of the global population, we’re responsible for about 21% of the world’s imprisoned individuals.
Despite having high numbers of incarcerated persons, the United States attaches a harmful stigma to those with a criminal history, making reentry into the workforce more difficult. I believe in second chances, and that’s why I’ve partnered with the nonprofit organization, Defy Ventures. This group does important work to help end the shame associated with having a criminal history, and strives to offer career and emotional support to formerly incarcerated individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Recently, Defy Colorado has begun the process of relaunching as an independent organization. This change will allow the organizers in Colorado to have a bigger impact within our community. Here’s what I’d love for you to know about Defy’s mission:
What They Do
We all have talents to share with the world, but unfortunately, many previously incarcerated individuals leave the prison system without the necessary skills to find fulfilling careers. Defy Ventures and their partners aim to equip the formerly imprisoned with the education and intrapersonal skills they need to thrive in the business world. Defy believes in the power of collaboration and mentorship. Their team recruits local business executives, thought leaders, and community influencers to provide an intense, transformative program for entrepreneurs-in-training, or EITs. It’s a two-way street that’s beneficial for all involved: Defy graduates gain a wealth of information to propel their new careers, and volunteers challenge previously held convictions about the incarcerated population.
About the Program
Defy’s approach is multifaceted: career coaching is an essential part of the process, but character development and parenting classes are just as crucial to breaking the cycle of incarceration. This comprehensive mentorship program offers exciting business plan competitions with tangible rewards. Defy and their partners recognize outstanding ideas and initiative, and fund graduates’ innovative startups until they’re profitable.
The Defy network provides invaluable support for men, women, and young people with criminal histories. I’m looking forward to volunteering again with this incredible nonprofit organization. Each of us has the power to change our path, and I’m inspired by the remarkable stories and ideas of Defy’s EITs. More than 1,000 leaders in business have joined the effort to effect change, but more volunteers are always needed to maximize Defy’s impact. If you’re interested in getting involved, please visit this website for more information. To stay in touch with Defy Colorado, “like” their Facebook page or give them a follow on Twitter.