The University of Pennsylvania Helps Residents At The Mission Start Their Own Businesses

Barrett and Curtis

The University of Pennsylvania has partnered with the Rescue Mission of Trenton to identify a small group of formerly incarcerated individuals to offer a ten-week intensive training on starting and running their own small business.

Through the Penn Restorative Entrepreneurship Program, the hope is “to develop and demonstrate a sustainable and replicable model to create new possibilities for those who enter the job market with so many daunting challenges,” according to Barrett Young, Chief Operating Officer of The Mission, who is one of the co-founders of this innovative program.

In this ten-minute video, produced by the University of Pennsylvania, the inspiration, vision and success of this program is shared by one of the residents who started his own business, along with Barrett and Charlotte Ren, Ph.D., a co-founder of the program, who is now Associate Professor of Strategic Management at Fox School of Business, Temple University – and whose initial idea sparked this unique partnership.

To view the video, click here: https://youtu.be/2IJnh9GcpHc

The residents who are selected to go through this program from The Mission receive one-on-one assistance from faculty and graduate students in formulating and presenting their own business plans. “I have been consistently surprised by how our residents have developed solid business ideas, and what can happen when they are given permission to believe in themselves and to dream about something big,” Barrett said.

Curtis Kitchen (shown here with Barrett), who went through the program freely shares, “It is extremely hard for people with addictions and criminal backgrounds to get a job. So, creating your own business was a new pathway that none of us had ever considered or knew the first thing about before we walked on to the University’s campus.”

After he went through the program, Curtis and his wife Brandy, who is also a former addict, were able to write a business plan to get a small business loan, which allowed them to become owners of their own auto repair shop. “Five years before this, I was sleeping under a bridge, wishing I would never wake up the next morning. And now we just hired a full-time employee who is also in recovery.”

Dr. Ren said that she hopes the next phase of the program will be to create consulting services and funding that can support the formerly incarcerated individuals as they endeavor to become entrepreneurs. She added, “These former inmates are often viewed as a problem rather than a potential asset to the community. As entrepreneurship scholars, we are helping them find their talents, motivations, and dreams.”

Barrett added, “The next step I would love to see happen is to have The Mission be able to develop the means to help some of these guys fund their start-up costs. Ideally, I’d like to raise the money to have a business developer work with them after they finish the class. That’s my dream.”

 

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The Rescue Mission of Trenton is the agency in the City of Trenton that serves the truly needy men and women who have no place to turn for shelter, food, and clothing. The Mission provides a safe, clean, warm, refuge for the homeless, the hungry, the transient and the addicted.

New Jersey’s Governor, First Lady, and Commissioner of the Department of Human Services Visit The Rescue Mission of Trenton On A Dangerously Cold Night

As the temperature plummeted to dangerous levels last evening, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, and Carole Johnson, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services met with over 180 men and women who sought refuge from the bitter cold, and enjoyed a warm meal at the Rescue Mission of Trenton.

Governor, First Lady, and DHS Commissioner

Surprised by the visit, the clients at the Mission engaged in conversations and had photographs taken with the dignitaries, who shared their deep concern for those who would otherwise have been freezing outside on the city’s streets. After spending time in the dining hall, The First Lady and the Commissioner visited the Mission’s women’s unit, while the governor visited the men’s unit.

“It meant a lot to our clients to know that the Governor, First Lady, and the Commissioner were so concerned about their well-being – and that they took time to be with us,” said Mary Gay Abbott-Young, CEO of the Mission. “Afterwards, the Governor, First Lady and Commissioner each expressed their appreciation for the work we do, and for the respect and care we give our clients who are going through a difficult time in their lives.”

She added, “While we offer food and shelter around-the-clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, of course, whenever the temperature gets dangerously cold and there is a Code Blue alert, everyone’s concern heightens. It is in such times that we are even more grateful for the partnership and support of the Governor, the First Lady, the Commissioner, the Mayor’s office, the Mercer County Department of Human Services, and our colleagues at other agencies in the community – including HomeFront, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Arm and Arm, and the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness.”

GOVERNOR MURPHY VISITS RESCUE MISSION TO ANNOUNCE PROPOSAL OF $100M TO FIGHT OPIOD CRISIS

Please click on the links below to view coverage of Governor Phil Murphy's proposal of $100 million in new spending to address the state's opioid crisis.

COO Barrett Young discusses the opioid epidemic as part of the ReachNJ campaign


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