Strengthening communities and disrupting cycles of incarceration by creating entrepreneurship opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.

The Problem

Chronic lack of opportunity in disadvantaged communities, and systemic inequalities have resulted in a criminal justice system and 75% recidivism rate that tears apart families, keeps communities economically depressed, and costs taxpayers more than $1 trillion every year.

The Solution

Refoundry embraces the core value that everyone is capable of contributing to society.

We aim to disrupt cycles of poverty and incarceration by creating long-term career opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to achieve financial independence and lead purposeful lives.

Refoundry does this by training formerly incarcerated people to repurpose discarded materials into home furnishings and mentoring them into their own business and/or career path.

Our immersive, 18-month paid fellowship focuses on: a) CRAFT as a portable skill that can secure earning power without requiring a formal education or professional degree; b) LIFE SKILLS and business acumen that develops candidates employers want to invest in long-term; c) COMMERCE that promotes mutual recognition of value between maker and buyer that has shown to be transformative in our pilots.

Flexible programming provides path that best suits individual’s aspirations, potential and life circumstances. There are three checkpoints with off-ramps: 1) 3 Months: placement in a living-wage, upwardly mobile job; 2) 9 Months: placement in a professional career-track position 3) business ownership for those who progress to incubation stage.

Because we sell the goods and services produced in training Refoundry is able to provide participants living wages + health care, relieving financial stress so that they can focus on the training.

In two pilots, we helped Refoundry Entrepreneurs create 10 businesses in LA and NYC that employ over 125 people from their home communities. No one we served has returned to prison, all are off most forms of social support.

Planned Use Of Funds

A generous gift from Shared Nation would go toward the launch of our first expanded cohort of 2019 in Brooklyn, NY -- providing necessary hardware, safety equipment, and hand tool sets for each participant, and help underwrite the core shop skills course that kicks off the program.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

This project was nominated by: