Our Story

In Fall 2010, an incarcerated man reached out to a long-time friend on the outside for a favor – his cellmate needed business advice for a venture he wanted to start when he returned home. That favor would be the catalyst for the creation of Pentorship, a social enterprise aimed at instilling entrepreneurial thinking and delivering in-demand skills training to incarcerated persons, with the goal of transforming them into self-sufficient contributors to a technologically-adept society.

Pentorship founder, Kristen Daniel, helped her friend’s cellmate by reviewing his business plan and providing feedback, and the idea to create a pen-pal program between incarcerated persons and business mentors began, known then as The Pentorship Program. By Spring 2012, word of The Pentorship Program had spread throughout the incarcerated community, with requests for participation streaming in from prisons across the U.S. Yet, working with The Department of Corrections to bring the program to a wanton inmate population proved difficult without intricate time studies and evidence-based outcomes providing the success of the program. With this seemingly insurmountable challenge, The Pentorship Program’s leadership set out to revise its model, determined to bring the program directly to inmates.

Using the knowledge and insight amassed over the two years since its inception, The Pentorship Program expanded its focus from having mentors review business ideas and provide insight, to having program mentors provide formal entrepreneurial training to inmates virtually. This 12-month pilot program focused on the comprehensive development of a product or service, chosen by the inmate and featuring self-paced and interactive modules for a group of 16 inmate-participants (selected from 90 inmates who expressed interest) and facilitated by 27 mentor-volunteers.

As the pilot program for entrepreneurship training got underway, a critical connection was made between The Pentorship Program and Brian McKinney, founder of Learn 2 Live,  a non-profit organization that helps inmates gain college credit through AP/CLEP examinations. With McKinney’s insight, The Pentorship Program began to explore ways to provide more learning and development opportunities for inmates – for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs as well as those wanting to further their formal education.

In Fall 2013, mentor-volunteers provide the Walker State Prison’s inaugural entrepreneurship class with its first round of business model feedback and, in April 2014, final assignments were submitted, signifying the completion of the program.

Pentorship Today

Amassing five years of knowledge and learnings from non-profits, start-ups, prison administration and the inmate population itself, Pentorship (formerly known as The Pentorship Program) continues to innovate and create relevant, innovative and affordable products and services for the people that need it the most; helping to bridge the ever-widening gap between prison and a technologically-adept society.

Cool Mentions

Georgia Tech Ideas 2 Serve Winner: Best Domestic Solution 2013

Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Finalist 2013

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