The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched its Aspire Challenge, which will award $1.2 million in prizes to organizations that provide small business support to formerly incarcerated individuals. The alarming rate of unemployment amongst former inmates after one year of release is nearly 60%, resulting in lost wages and an increased likelihood of recidivism. The SBA views self-employment opportunities as one powerful solution to this large problem.
The Aspire Challenge comes on the heels of the Aspire Entrepreneurship Initiative, a three-year pilot program providing entrepreneurship education and microloan assistance to formerly incarcerated individuals in major metropolitan areas. The Aspire Challenge seeks to spur further innovation to equip them with the education and technical assistance they need to start and grow a business. The SBA plans to hand out $75,000 prizes to up to 16 organizations, for-profit and nonprofit, based on how well they provide entrepreneurial education and access to capital. Winners will be announced by the end of March 2017. LEARN MORE