Pittsburgh Program Helps Felons Become Entrepreneurs


It’s difficult for a convicted felon to find a job, but it’s possible for the felon to find work and be productive in society if the felon hires himself, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. That concept is behind a University of Pittsburgh pilot program which trained 10 former inmates to become entrepreneurs so they can start their own businesses. The program, called the Entrepreneurial Mindset, graduated the 10 students yesterday.

The program is part of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence in the Katz Graduate School of Business at Pitt and was done in conjunction with the Mon Valley Initiative with funding from the Heinz Endowments. Two, Terry Neal and Kunta Bradford, said they already have nearly 100 customers for their own business, Family Direct Connect. For $19.95 a month plus an initial fee, the business provides a local phone number so that those who are incarcerated can save money on phone calls home. Neal said phone calls from a prison can run $5 to $9 for a 15-minute call, once operator and long-distance fees are computed. While operator fees still apply, the ability to make the calls local reduces the cost, thus making it possible for inmates to afford more calls home.

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