The inaugural cohort of 15 fellows graduated on June 21 from Georgetown University’s Pivot Program, which offers a certificate in business and entrepreneurship for Washington, D.C., residents released from local correctional facilities who show strong potential to become successful leaders and role models in their communities.
Launched in late 2018, the Pivot Program is a collaboration among Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, and the District of Columbia government. The program is supported by the DC Department of Employment Services, the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the DC Mayor’s Office for Returning Citizens.
The program aims to help prevent recidivism while also empowering the fellows to overcome barriers to employment typically faced by returning citizens. According to Forbes, “of the 5,000 people annually released from jail and prisons [in the Washington, D.C. area], less than half find sustainable employment.”
Turning ideas into opportunity
Pivot fellows attend courses on topics ranging from business fundamentals to economics history, technological literacy, public speaking, and business etiquette. Fellows also must complete an internship; they have found placements in real estate development, tech start-ups, and nonprofits, writes Forbes.
“Companies benefit from access to a talented pool of employees in a tight labor market, and the community benefits by realizing the human potential of its returning citizens,” said Pietra Rivoli, vice dean of Georgetown McDonough and an executive director of the program.
In addition to its employment track, Pivot has helped students pursue entrepreneurial opportunities through its incubation track. Kadija Clifton, who is among the first graduates, told Fox 5 DC that she intends to start a business to give underserved populations in Washington, D.C., better access to healthy food. Clifton says the Pivot Program “takes ideas and gives you opportunity.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony (watch the video), Pivot Fellow Corey Pollard reflected on the transformational nature of the program. “[The Pivot Program] helped to strip my old personality and create a new one,” said Pollard. “This is how I was given some sense of hope. It was beyond just getting a job, but rather creating jobs in my local community.”
Learn more on the Pivot Program website.