In September 2011, a Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program was launched, serving inmates at Dilwyn Correctional Facility. Using Socratic method instruction, this program engaged selected inmates in learning the skills and tools needed for business startups through problem-based case studies and business planning. Five MBA students served as volunteer instructors. In August, this pilot program graduated 13 inmates nearing release, awarding each a UVa Certificate in Entrepreneurship.
As a result of this successful pilot, the Virginia Department of Corrections requested an immediate expansion, which began in October 2012. To facilitate serving both Dilwyn and Fluvanna, 12 current MBAs are serving as volunteer instructors, and efforts are being made to establish a non-profit organization, Resilience Education, to support the continuation and expansion of this work. This project endeavors to fill an identified gap in the educational services available to underserved populations, specifically prisoners and victims of domestic violence. These populations rarely, if ever, are able to access the types of quality educational programming offered to more affluent and prepared students and organizations. It is clear that such training could play a substantial role in moving these individuals into positions of economic stability and productivity in our communities.