Aspire for Entrepreneurship

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Pilot program for up to 25 justice-involved individuals with a conviction for a misdemeanor or a felony as an adult. There will be a training phase and a business phase. Modules will cover life and business skill topics such as computer training and entrepreneurship. CAAB will match savings in an escrow account, savers agree to complete financial education & use their savings for asset-building purposes. See here for details.

Progress Updates:

September 2019: Graduation of the first cohort of Aspire Side Hustle, an evening and weekend version of Aspire programming. This new core format increases access to entrepreneurship training for those who cannot commit to a fulltime program and creates space for alumni to continue to engage with the Aspire program.

March 2019: The DSLBD partnered directly with the Department of Employment Services’ Project Empowerment to launch the 5th cohort, and the program continues to see a zero percent recidivism rate for program graduates. DSLBD also launched “We Aspire” grants to build and grow the ecosystem of returning citizen businesses.

September 2018: Aspire has served 50 DC returning citizens to date, and reports a zero percent recidivism rate. Similar programs are launching in DC Jail, and other groups are seeking to build Aspire-like programs to remove barriers to entrepreneurship equitably.

August 2017: The third cohort for Aspire launched and are preparing to move from a pilot to full program housed in DOES in 2018. 

June 2017: The second Aspire cohort graduated.

March 2017: Launched second cohort and received a $10,000 US Conference of Mayors (USCM) DollarWise innovation grant to help expand the program.

  • Timeline: in-progress
  • Lead and key partners: Dept. of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD)
  • Related core sectors: n/a
  • Related opportunity areas: n/a
  • Related action areas: talent, funding