Solid Rock CDC to launch entrepreneur program for formerly incarcerated

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A new program launching this January aims to turn the formerly incarcerated into entrepreneurs and employees while reducing recidivism.

Benjamin Anderson, executive director of Solid Rock Community Development Corporation, said the organization will launch the Fresh Start Investment Program next month.

The eight-week program, “is a business development, entrepreneurship, and personal development training program,” according to a release from Solid Rock.

It is funded through a $130,000 grant from the Transforming Safety program, created last year by state legislators passing HB 17-1326, or the Justice Reinvestment Crime Prevention bill.

“One of the goals with that bill is to reduce recidivism and crime in southeast Colorado Springs,” Anderson said. “That’s the ultimate goal of this program — the investment of these dollars.”

The three-year pilot Transforming Safety program is annually funded by $4 million in savings from parole reform and includes small business lending and community grants to help transform the safety of Southeast Colorado Springs and North Aurora.

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Solid Rock will host an informational session for potential participants from 10-11 a.m. Jan. 19 at Solid Rock Christian Center, 2520 Arlington Drive, according to the Southeast Express newspaper.

The class is free and open to the public; registration is not required.

Investment classes will then begin at 5 p.m. Jan. 23 with sessions continuing from 5-8 p.m. every Wednesday for eight weeks.

“Our objective is to start 10 businesses per year for the next three years in the southeast area,” Anderson said.

Graduates of the Fresh Start Investment Program may qualify for financial assistance in launching their small business, which must be based in the the southeast to qualify, Anderson told the Southeast Express earlier this month.

Solid Rock has partnered with Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center consultants, Thrive Colorado Springs, WeighOut Ministries, Pikes Peak Workforce Center, Harrison School District 2 and the RISE Coalition on the program.

“Fresh Start Investment Program addresses the limited access to education, skills training, and economic opportunity for men, women, and youth with criminal histories by creating empathy and providing hope, hands-on mentoring, community support, and a clear path to economic security through employment or entrepreneurship,” the release said.

Go to solidrockcdc.com for more information about the Fresh Start Investment Program.

Disclosure: The Southeast Express is a sister publication of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.