2021 Grants Challenge

Re-Entry Growth Collective Initiative

Re-Entry Growth Collective Initiative is a collaborative training program for re-entry that provides a database for small service businesses to source candidates to scale their business. Its parallel purpose is to serve as a springboard for employment or entrepreneurship by teaching a skill set and business basics to those seeking re-entering society.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

City of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Re-Entry Growth Collective Initiative (REGCI) aims to tackle two problems, recidivism and small business scalability. Although African Americans and Hispanics only represent 32% of the population, they make up 56% of the incarcerated population. About 650,000 people are released from prison annually in the U.S., and about two-thirds of those are re-incarcerated within three years. According to the Center for American Progress, the black unemployment rate has been consistently twice that of the white unemployment rate from 1972-2019, and incarceration is a major barrier for many to get permanent and good-paying work. On the business front, small companies interested in bidding for contracts at the city, county, or state level have problems being able to scale and meet the demand of government contracts. This makes it harder for them to grow, harder for them to increase their bottom line and take advantage of the benefits and programs the Los Angeles municipality has to offer.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Re-Entry Growth Collective Initiative creates support structures to prevent recidivism and enable these men and women to find dignity in work and financial agency. Structures include: partnering with small businesses to provide skill-based education, creating job fairs, offering lessons in entrepreneurship, and partnering with other similar organizations to provide psychological and community support. The grant will also help address the economics of small businesses being able to scale by creating a database of skilled service providers. REGCI will offer job fairs, both live and virtual, where re-entry candidates can speak to small business owners in a large range of service fields. Then, once matched, the candidate will attend skill training sessions with those business owners for a specified number of days either at the job site or at a city college or community center. Once the candidate has successfully completed the training, they are entered into the database where they can be found by any of the business owners either participating or paying into the program. Since business owners will be interacting with the re-entry candidates, they will be able to witness the quality of their developing craftsmanship and also be able to connect with them personally. This not only will help remove the barrier of fear on part of the business owners, but also help the re-entry candidates bridge the gap and develop soft skills as well as salable ones to rebuild their lives.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 370

Indirect Impact: 1,500

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Re-Entry Growth Collective Initiative will help formerly incarcerated individuals re-enter society by offering educational programs and support systems and partnering with small businesses and other organizations to help realize this goal. Long term, the goal is to lower recidivism rates and unemployment rates while also positioning small businesses so that they have the ability and opportunity to scale.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We intend to develop an expandable database and measure our systems and behavior change along with organizational, financial and partnership development processes. Direct impact – 120 small businesses by providing 250 trained returning citizens (re-entry program participants) as candidates for employment. Indirect Impact – we will develop systems for matching small businesses with employees using database developed which will potentially impact over 500 businesses and 1,000 returning citizens as the database is expanded.

Which of the CREATE metrics will you impact?​

Economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated