Inmates to Entrepreneurs, a national nonprofit that teaches people with criminal records how to start and grow their own businesses, announced that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich gave a commencement address at the Inmates to Entrepreneurs national course graduation.
The course, which was open to individuals with criminal backgrounds who are interested in entrepreneurship, had approximately 60 graduates, and was provided free of charge by the nonprofit.
“Inmates to Entrepreneurs is an invaluable program to help men and women develop the necessary skills to start and run a business,” said the former Governor Blagojevich. “During my eight years in prison, I discovered how smart, resourceful and enterprising many of the men I served time with are – they just need some direction. Directing inmates to become entrepreneurs offers the best chance at a second chance. I believe the comeback is always stronger than the setback,” Blagojevich continued.
In the past three years, Inmates to Entrepreneurs taught entrepreneurship to more than 4,500 individuals in correctional facilities and through its online courses. With a course graduation rate of 77 percent, graduates have started businesses that include landscaping, event planning, catering, cleaning services and more.
Inmates to Entrepreneurs was founded in 1992 by entrepreneur Brian Hamilton to reduce the rate of recidivism in the United States by providing a path to financial stability and success.
“At Inmates to Entrepreneurs, we are here to serve people who were formerly incarcerated,” said Lawrence Carpenter, Chairman of Inmates to Entrepreneurs. “Governor Blagojevich’s experience as a public servant, including his time as governor, as well as his experience as a formerly incarcerated individual himself uniquely position him to share insights that could help greatly in bridging the gap between how ex-offenders are viewed and how they really are.”