HOW WE DO IT
PRISONCalling All Entrepreneurs
The shaping begins with the application process for the Business Plan Competition. We scour the Texas prison system, recruiting from more than 60 prisons, to handpick men with transformed hearts, impeccable work ethic and entrepreneurial potential.
Applicants endure an intense application process; then the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) transfers the eligible, pre-release men to the Cleveland Correctional Facility in Cleveland, Texas, where PEP operates.
Most PEP participants were either dope dealers or violent criminals and many were in raised in disadvantaged situations where education and achievement were not modeled. That's why we call them underdogs.
PEP Boot Camp
The PEP boot camp takes off at a rapid pace. PEP staff teaches our five-month program, executive volunteers partake in prison events and entrepreneurs, business people and MBA students provide feedback on business plans through our Business Plan Advising Program.
The participants receive a top-tier business education—they construct detailed pro-forma income statements, learn the relevance of EBITDA margins, take 40+ business exams and pitch their business concept 200+ times. They rub shoulders with more than 100 executives in five months.
For their final exam, participants deliver 30-minute oral business plan presentations to a judging panel of CEOs and venture capitalists from across the nation. Our graduation ceremony tops off the Business Plan Competition event as we celebrate, for the majority of the class, their first commencement ceremony ever.
Imagine being consistently disappointed, lied to and stolen from for years, if not decades. Many family members of PEP participants have stood by these men and prayed for the day they would change, but many have lost hope. Of all our constituents—CEO’s, MBA’s, and politicians—the toughest to persuade of PEP’s effectiveness are the families of our participants.
The purpose of PEP’s family program is to connect, inform, encourage and provide hope to family and friends of those enrolled in PEP. This connection to family and friends not only helps our participants stick with the program while they are locked up, but it also helps smooth their transition back into the community.
Here’s how we achieve our mission:
The Greatest is Love
Above all, PEP’s family relations program builds confidence and hope, which leads to reunification and love. Imagine the shame these family members experience when their loved one goes to prison … and for most, this was not the first time. They hear terrible things about their loved one and are chastised by many in society for their association to prison. They are encouraged to write him off.
But how does a praying mother ever let go of hope for her son? Positive words about him from PEP are like gold to her. She is amazed that a group of strangers can see the wonderful qualities she knew he always had. It just took a strong influence to allow him to shine.