In the spring of 2015, Dr. Charlotte Ren launched and served as founding faculty director of a new program: Penn Restorative Entrepreneurship Program (PREP), which was geared towards helping formerly incarcerated individuals to become entrepreneurs, participate in civic engagement, and advocate for social justice.
Currently led by Dr. Chao Guo, PREP offers a small group of previously incarcerated people 10 weeks of intensive training on how to start and run a small business. This intensive curriculum training is included as part of a Special Topics course (SWRK 798) entitled “The Social Entrepreneurial Approach to Community Reintegration.” Participants are chosen based on survey and interview results and are taught by select students from various schools at Penn who are enrolled in the course. After the curriculum training, PREP provides a support system, including consulting, registration help, possible funding opportunities, and civic engagement and policy advocacy activities, to help budding entrepreneurs turn business ideas into reality.
Valuable as they are, most of the existing reintegration programs have focused on job placement as the main route, but these reintegration efforts have not lived up to our expectations. Through PREP, we hope to develop and demonstrate a sustainable and replicable model to effectively transition formerly incarcerated individuals back to the community.
The launch of PREP is made possible with strong and persistent support from the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2). It also benefits tremendously from its field partner—Rescue Mission of Trenton—and several partners at Penn, including the SP2 Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI) and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. The Rescue Mission of Trenton, a 105-year-old public charity located in Trenton, New Jersey, provides a variety of support services to formerly and currently incarcerated individuals.
For more information about this program, please watch this short video.
Want to get involved? Please feel free to contact: