A chronic substance abuser, Kevin was eventually caught and sent to prison for drug distribution. He says it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

There, Kevin says he had a moment of epiphany. He realized his life could mean more. He applied to, and eventually successfully graduated from, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a United Way service provider.

PEP is not for the faint of heart. It is a college-level program that is rigorous and exhaustive. After the participants have completed their coursework, they create a business level plan to pursue after they get out of prison. In fact, they must present that business plan to dozens of world-class corporate volunteers who critique, criticize, and mentor the participants and their plans.

The model doesn’t just cater to minds, but souls. Inmates must find a new culture outside the gangs, unwritten prison rules, and “tough-guy” machismo that can prohibit personal growth. They learn about what employers are looking for, and how to walk in the world as a reformed person.

Jeremy Gregg, chief development officer for PEP says, “The business plan is emblematic for a larger plan in their life.” For Kevin, this has certainly proven to be the case.

After earning a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Baylor University Hankamer School of Business, Kevin left prison ready to make up for his time before prison. Though his professional life was on track, he still faced a son who wanted nothing to do with him. Kevin tears up when he recalls how he, “lost everything due to [my] actions.”

Kevin worked hard. He started his own transportation company. He stayed sober, thanks to his “brothers” from the program. Now, Kevin happily relates that he will get to contribute to his son’s college fund, and the pair have reestablished their relationship. Kevin still keeps in touch with many of the graduates from the program, and plans to provide them with opportunities to work as he expands his fleet. Thanks to United Way, and its partner, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, lives are changing across North Texas.