Georgetown Pivot Program preparing formerly incarcerated individuals for employment

Georgetown University has launched a transition program that pairs educational instruction with internship opportunities to help returning citizens prepare for entrepreneurship, employment, or further education. Designed for a cohort of up to 20 students, the one-year, full-time Pivot Program is a collaboration between Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, Georgetown College, and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

In addition, the program is receiving support from the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs; the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development; the D.C. Department of Employment Services; and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development agency, which awarded a $400,000 grant.

Combining academic work and supported employment

“The principal goal of the Pivot Program is employment readiness,” Marc M. Howard, director of Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, said in a statement. To earn a non-credit-bearing certificate in business and entrepreneurship, program participants—called Pivot Fellows—will complete courses taught by faculty from both the Georgetown McDonough School of Business and Georgetown College. Spread across 10 months, the courses will cover topics ranging from business fundamentals to literature, economics, and civic engagement. Fellows also will hone professional and life skills, like public speaking, conflict resolution, and personal finance.

The program also is partnering with local employers to match fellows with internships. Toward the end of the program, participants will select either an employment or entrepreneurship track and receive corresponding support and resources. Throughout the program, Pivot Program fellows will receive a weekly internship stipend from the D.C. Department of Employment Services, offering further incentive to complete the program.

Commenting on the program’s entrepreneurial emphasis, Alyssa Lovegrove, managing director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative at the McDonough School of Business said that “while fellows are not required to start a business, they are taught how to adopt and apply an entrepreneurial mindset and to feel a greater sense of empowerment. We believe this increased confidence will result in a more positive career trajectory and an enhanced ability to respond to social and regulatory barriers.”

Breaking the cycle of crime and incarceration

Each year, roughly 5,000 individuals are released from D.C. correctional facilities, and less than half of them find sustainable employment. Pivot Program leaders say they seek to break the resulting cycle of crime and incarceration and instead “recapture this untapped human capital by supporting a set of people who have previously made mistakes, served their time, and are committed to becoming successful leaders and role models in their communities.”

To earn a spot in the highly selective program, applicants must be Washington, D.C., residents; be at least 25 years of age; have a high school diploma or GED; have been released from a local correctional facility within the past two years; and demonstrate strong potential and readiness.

“Our approach is based on the premise that a combination of higher education and employment–together with the social, emotional, and intellectual development that takes place in a university environment–will succeed in preparing returning citizens for positions as both entrepreneurial leaders and productive employees,” said Pietra Rivoli, vice dean of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Learn more on the Pivot Program website.

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