The Indy Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) has received a $150,000 PRIME grant from the Small Business Administration for the third year of BOI’s Re-Entry Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (REDi), a program that provides business technical assistance in the form of a six-week workshop and one-on-one business coaching to currently- and formerly-incarcerated individuals.
Nearly 14,000 Indianapolis metro residents have a prior criminal conviction with incarceration – a number that grows each year – limiting their access to economic opportunities. REDi adds another layer to proven reentry and workforce development models by offering entrepreneurship and self-employment as an option for sustainable employment and upward mobility.
“We know that returning citizens face many barriers to employment,” noted Julie Grice, Interim President of Business Ownership Initiative. “REDi equips individuals with the tools to forge their own path. Through the SBA’s critical funding, we plan to continue our reach into a segment of the community that can use the entrepreneurial skills and business ownership as a self-sustaining and empowering strategy for their post-incarceration lives, whether it leads to business ownership or growing an existing business.”
The SBA’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME) grants support low-income or otherwise disadvantaged aspiring entrepreneurs. This year's 32 recipients came from 24 states and the District of Columbia. In total, 111 organizations applied for PRIME grants for 2018 and Business Ownership Initiative was the only organization in Indiana to receive funding.
“This year’s PRIME grant awardees are dedicated to providing underserved entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to strengthen their communities and create more jobs,” said Stacey Poynter, SBA Indiana District Office Director. “Supporting programs like REDi allows SBA to empower the American Dream by providing resources for entrepreneurs from all walks of life.”
Since launching in October 2016, BOI provided more than 5,000 hours of training and coaching to more than 450 REDi participants. The program helped launch 7 businesses and provided 3 microloans.
This year, REDi engaged partners like the Indiana Department of Correction and Workforce Development, the City of Indianapolis, the John H Boner Community Center, PACE (Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry), among other community groups. BOI’s dedicated REDi staff facilitates a six-week intensive business course that consists of workshops like Entrepreneurship 101, Business Accounting, Financial Planning among others at the Indiana Women’s Prison, Plainfield Correctional, the John H. Boner Community Center and PACE. The team also provides individual business coaching.
In September, REDi received another boost as BOI was awarded a $40,000 Community Crime Prevention Grant from the Indianapolis Foundation, an affiliate of CICF. The Crime Prevention Grants are funded by the City of Indianapolis to address the root causes of crime through neighborhood and civic partnerships.
Through the support of CICF, BOI is finishing the REDi program’s second year by hosting a public pitch competition for ex-offenders in Central Indiana. Entrepreneurs will compete to win $2,500 and a package of professional services. Five finalists will receive one hour of free business law advice and a meeting with a REDi business coach prior to the pitch competition. The event is open to the public and will be held at the John H. Boner Community Center on Monday, October 22nd from 5:30-7:30 p.m. To register and learn more visit: www.indychamber.com/redi-pitch.