Prisoner to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Re-entry Strategy

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Prisoner to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Re-entry Strategy
Joseph A. Antolin, Executive Director, Asset Funders Network
Re-posted with permission by the author, and originally appeared in the AFN Newsletter

AFN and it's members are committed to expanding opportunity and prosperity for everyone.  Our shared economic prosperity depends on an expanding and inclusive economy which allows workers to earn a living that provides disposable income for investment in assets.
Given our changing demographics, expanding opportunity means affirmatively reversing the legal and systemic bias of the past with investments that intentionally close the racial and ethnic wealth gaps and help those with the desire, talent and will to succeed by connecting them to the necessary tools and products.  This effort requires parallel avenues to be holisitic, patience to see the results over time, and creativity to reverse systemic bias and barriers-after all that is a key role for our philanthropic sector.
In AFN's just released Strategy Spotlight, "Prisoner to Proprietor", AFN highlights funders and organizations who are providing former prisoners a successful re-entry into society and making participation in the economy a reality with an innovative, effective, if selective, strategy. Too many people of color, especially men, go to prison only to return to the community with huge legal and systemic hurdles that stand in the way of participating in the economy.  AFN's highlighted strategy works with the formerly incarcerated to become entrepreneurs.  The results show exceptionally low recidivism, and more importantly, successful men and women as employees and business owners employing others.
To confront the disturbing reality and consequences of the racial and ethnic wealth gap, philanthropy will need to keep investing in, and replicating, innovations that work to move households of color to real opportunity for prosperity.