Over the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of the different populations and communities we serve through our programming. We want to offer a deeper look at both the challenges and opportunities for certain groups, as well as celebrate a few of our community partners.
To start, we want to share our work supporting returning citizens. RMMFI has worked with returning citizens throughout our history, including by delivering an adapted version of our Exploring Business Ownership program within the Colorado Correctional Center. In 2019, we began to focus more intentionally on serving this population with the addition of our Aurora program site. The Aurora expansion is a partnership with Second Chance Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated individuals reestablish their lives and become successful members of the community. While not all of our Aurora participants are returning citizens, the site offers a safe, supportive pathway for aspiring entrepreneurs receiving care management through SCC.
Business ownership is a unique opportunity for a population that faces significant challenges in finding stable employment, and our partnership with SCC is an example of the power of a holistic approach to reducing recidivism based on a belief in the potential of every person. The expertise of SCC staff has helped us truly meet entrepreneurs where they are through better understanding of the barriers faced by individuals returning from justice involvement. Together, we’ve learned more about how to define readiness for business ownership for returning citizens, ensuring that entrepreneurs receive the right programming at the right time. Our Aurora site has also demonstrated the importance of mentorship and community support, with entrepreneurs building belief in self and trusted relationships that will impact their trajectories far beyond the success of their business.
To date, 22 returning citizens have graduated from Business Launch Boot Camp, and 20% of our program participants in the last fiscal year were formerly incarcerated. We’re excited to share the stories of a few of these entrepreneurs in the weeks to come, and we’ll continue to develop programs and partnerships to give returning citizens the support to see, believe in, and activate their own potential.