The U.S. Small Business Administration, in partnership with microlender Justine PETERSEN, has announced a $2.1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to launch an initiative focused on entrepreneurship training and microloans for previously incarcerated individuals.
The Aspire Entrepreneurship Initiative will work to expand access to entrepreneurial education and microloans for formerly incarcerated individuals, with a focus on individuals who are parents. SBA will oversee strategic planning for the effort and work with microlending partners to make capital available for program participants, while Justine PETERSEN will provide its intensive, cohort-based entrepreneurial education program to participants and Kellogg will provide matching revolving loan funds and evaluation support. The foundation also will partner with SBA to produce a white paper that summarizes the insights produced by the initiative, which will be rolled out in Chicago, Detroit, Louisville, and St. Louis.
"Entrepreneurship and small business ownership are proven paths toward wealth creation and financial independence, especially for people who might otherwise feel trapped by their circumstances," said SBA administrator Maria Contreras Sweet. "America remains a land of opportunity, a place where we believe in second chances for those who have paid their debt to society. Entrepreneurship can be a ladder of opportunity for citizens who have paid that debt but are still struggling to find employment after incarceration. With the training and startup tools provided through this partnership, these American citizens can finally start to rebuild their lives and restore their relationships with their families and communities."