Read the full press release below! (Original press release published here.)
Defy Ventures and the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) announce a new partnership to provide current and formerly incarcerated students with a certificate in entrepreneurship to help them successfully transition back into their communities.
High prison recidivism rates in the state and nationwide are exacerbated by a lack of job skills and educational training. Without training, many formerly incarcerated people struggle to find employment in their communities and often return to the criminal justice system. The Defy-Drucker partnership builds on Defy's previous efforts to address this challenge and Drucker’s long-standing humanistic approach to management education.
“This partnership will open the door to future collaboration that will make Defy’s curriculum even more impactful for the currently and formerly incarcerated people in our program,” said Andrew Glazier, Defy’s President and CEO. “We are excited to be working with the Drucker community.”
AN ENHANCED EFFORT
For several years, Defy Ventures has offered a curriculum in business skills to train incarcerated people nationwide and show them how to start a business and improve their employment outlook. This training has been designed to provide a pathway to economic independence, and Defy has a track record of successful outcomes for graduates of their program. That includes a recidivism rate under eight percent for program participants and the launch of 140 businesses since 2012. Defy Ventures also recently received a federal grant to expand its entrepreneurship programs.
Now, in collaboration with the Drucker School of Management, Defy will be leveraging the deep experience of the Drucker community to enhance the entrepreneurship curriculum and programming.
“We are thrilled to work with Defy on such an important issue,” says Drucker Dean David Sprott. “Our school is named for Peter Drucker, who believed in the power of businesses to support their communities and contribute to a functioning society. This new partnership with Defy is an ideal example of that vision, and we are looking forward to supporting them in this very important work.”
The certificate of entrepreneurship is one of the first results of this new partnership. It will be provided to any currently and formerly incarcerated individual who complete Defy Ventures’ in-prison or community-based entrepreneurship programs.
Also as part of the partnership, Defy will host a “Field Impact Fellowship,” a paid position for a Drucker School or CGU student to work with Defy’s team on various initiatives. Drucker students, faculty, and alumni also will have other opportunities to volunteer and engage with Defy's programs.
“What Defy does is transformational, for its program participants and volunteers alike,” says Jonathan T. D. Neil, director of CGU’s Center for Business and Management of the Arts, which spearheaded the partnership. “We are excited for our students to learn not only from Defy’s programs but also about Defy as an organization.”
Associate Professor and Interim Drucker Dean Katharina Pick adds that the school’s faculty are excited to partner with Defy because the school's Drucker philosophy maintains that “we have a responsibility to help people thrive in ways that give them dignity and status and that connect them to society and community.”
MEETING A CRITICAL NEED
This new effort comes at a critical time for the criminal justice system, especially in states like California. Defy currently has programs in nine prisons in the state, but more needs to be done to provide educational assistance to incarcerated people. Only one public bachelor's program exists in the state that addresses their situation, and another has just been approved to fully roll out in 2022.
With nearly 90,000 people incarcerated in California’s state prisons, a greater number of educational programs are needed to increase the chances of success after release. With its rigorous six- to nine-month curriculum and university-backed certificate upon graduation, Defy offers this kind of educational support at a time when opportunities are few.
“We see our partnership with the Drucker School as a powerful validation of Defy’s program and mission,” Defy’s Glazier adds. "Their vision of what's possible aligns with ours. We share a common recognition that when incarcerated individuals and returning citizens are equipped to build new lives and contribute to society after serving their time, we are making a more just and inclusive society for all."