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Penn professor launches restorative entrepreneurship program for formerly incarcerated individuals

Faculty & Research


This month, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) professor Dr. Charlotte Ren introduced a new program geared towards helping formerly incarcerated individuals become entrepreneurs.

Under Ren’s leadership, the innovative program – Penn Restorative Entrepreneurship Program (PREP) – offers a small group of previously incarcerated people 10 weeks of intensive training on how to start and run a small business. Participants are chosen based on survey and interview results and are taught by select students from various schools at Penn.

After the curriculum training, PREP provides a support system, including consulting, registration help, funding opportunities, and civic engagement 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,” Ren said. “Through PREP, we hope to develop and demonstrate a sustainable and replicable model to effectively transition formerly incarcerated individuals back to the community.”

According to Ren, PREP is made possible with the help of field partner, Rescue Mission of Trenton and partners at Penn, including the SP2 Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI) and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.

Rescue Mission of Trenton, a 100-year-old public charity located in Trenton, New Jersey, provides a variety of support services to formerly and currently incarcerated individuals.