Entrepreneur In Training Partnership

The Entrepreneur in Training Partnership (EITP) facilitates free entrepreneurship, job readiness, and personal development training for currently and formerly incarcerated community members. The EITP is a collaboration between UW-Madison Extension and Defy Ventures, a national organization dedicated to helping end recidivism by training formerly incarcerated people to become entrepreneurs. Using the Defy Ventures curriculum and program model, we train justice-involved community members and connect them with coaches from the local business community. Entrepreneurs In Training (EITs) in our programs receive practical wisdom on how to start a thriving business and lifelong access to our alumni community.

We are able to offer this program for free to our participants through partnerships with:

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How to Get Involved

The Entrepreneur In Training Partnership works to transform the lives of business leaders and people with criminal histories through their collaboration along the entrepreneurial journey. There are many pathways that people can take as a part of our community. Learn more in the drop-down menus below.

In-custody programs: We facilitate the Defy Ventures class CEO of Your New Life in select Wisconsin Department of Corrections facilities: Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center (REECC), Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility (RYOC), and Redgranite Correctional Institution (RGCI). Aspiring EITs in a Wisconsin prison can contact us via CorrLinks at EITPartnership@extension.wisc.edu.

Community-based Programs: Defy Ventures Entrepreneurship Bootcamp class is for people with criminal records who have reentry stability and want to start a business. The class meets weekly for 3-4 months and includes the basics of business planning along with personal development to deepen EITs’ leadership skills.

Reentry Programs: Our Career & Reentry Educator works with graduates of CEO of Your New Life to prepare for and navigate reentry. She can help with your first resume, sharpen your interview skills, and help you connect to employers, training programs, and other resources. She will also help with basic computer skills as you learn how to use your Chromebook laptop and navigate Google Suite Tools (Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) These learning activities are also available to EITs who have completed or are enrolled in Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

EIT Alumni Association: All EIT graduates are in the alumni association and invited to participate in regular events and workshops with peers and coaches for continued support and networking.

Pre-Accelerator and Accelerator: EITs who have completed an in-custody or post-release program can take additional courses to help launch their businesses with coaching and support. Graduates of the Accelerator program can pitch the EITP Investment Committee for business grants.

Prison Program Volunteer Coach: Provide support and constructive feedback to EITs in the prison-based program Defy Ventures CEO of Your New Life class. Group events are in the prison facility with food/beverages and class materials provided. In these impactful 3-9 hour events, we work with professional and personal skills useful in job seeking and other reentry hurdles, as well as in entrepreneurship. Volunteers provide support and constructive feedback to EITs on class materials such as resumes, business concepts, personal statements, and/or final pitches. Background clearance by the Department of Corrections prison facility is required before volunteering the first time, and a criminal record does not necessarily exclude participation. Please contact Diana.Hammer@wisc.edu if you have questions.

Community-based Volunteer Coach: Provide support and constructive feedback to EITs building business plans in the Defy Ventures Entrepreneurship Bootcamp class. Group events are online via Zoom or in person in Milwaukee. Completing an Extension Volunteer Application and one 30-minute orientation is required before your first event.

Community-based Volunteer Mentor (after volunteering in one of the other two ways first): Provide one-on-one mentoring to an EIT in the Defy Ventures Accelerator (3rd and last) class, meeting three hours per month for five months to work on building specific skills needed in entrepreneurship or the specific industry of the new business.

Newsletter Network: Sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly updates on opportunities to get involved.

Support our Program: Financial gifts help us continue and expand this work around the state. You can donate online via the UW Foundation website through the Dean’s fund.

Not sure where you fit? Contact EITP director Diana Hammer to discuss opportunities for your involvement.

Stay Connected

You can contact us at EITPartnership@extension.wisc.edu or 920-929-3178.  Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive periodic updates and opportunities to join in. Follow us on our EITP Facebook page.

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