In 2016 ACEnet began to explore the opportunity to customize our existing microenterprise curriculum and technical assistance services to serve citizens in reentry. During a 12 month research phase we worked closely with Athens County Job and Family Services, the OhioMeansJobs Athens County, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to prepare the research and program approach to an entrepreneurship collaborative project.
In 2017 we received funding through a Small Business Administration PRIME award that allowed us to provide sector-based training and entrepreneurship assistance to citizens in reentry. Our primary partner has been Jobs & Family Services’ Sean Stover at the Athens County Reentry Task Force, who we worked with to research and design a prototype program that could enable citizens in re-entry to begin the steps needed for self-employment and eventually small business ownership.
In 2018 ACEnet launched its Reentry Microenterprise Program. In the first half of 2018, ACEnet staff visited the Southeastern Correctional Complex in Lancaster and the Noble Correctional Institution to present information about ACEnet’s General Entrepreneurship and Kitchen Sector Training programs to 12 case workers and 39 inmates. This group of inmates would soon be returning home to Athens, Meigs, Morgan, Perry and Vinton Counties.
With funding from the SBA PRIME award, ACEnet delivered our free series of 6 General Entrepreneurship classes at four of Athens County’s Public Library branches: Coolville, Nelsonville, Albany (Wells), Glouster, and also at the OhioMeansJobs – Athens County facility in 2018.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor provided funding for the HOPES project – Hospitality Opportunities for People (Re)Entering Society. HOPES partners utilize the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF)’s Restaurant Ready training to help people acquire the skills and abilities they would need to pursue jobs in the restaurant industry as a pathway to economic independence.
In 2021, Restaurant Ready training began being delivered to STAR residents through a partnership with Ohio University’s Stevens Literacy Center by Assistant Professor Thomas Stevenson in the Recreation, Sports Pedagogy, and Consumer Sciences Department of the Patton College of Education.
Where does ACEnet fit into this? Chef Thom facilitated the program within STAR, and connected with ACEnet staff to explore placing graduates of Restaurant Ready with ACEnet food business clients. He felt that the pairing of Restaurant Ready graduates with ACEnet clients would be beneficial for all parties: STAR residents would have an opportunity to demonstrate the new skills and abilities they had cultivated, and have a current work reference when applying for employment in their home community upon release, and ACEnet entrepreneurs would have access to additional trained help in ACEnet production spaces, and be given the opportunity to help develop a member of our regional community.
Since the beginning of this collaboration, ACEnet has hosted more than 50 STAR residents!
STAR Community Justice Center requires that residents have on-site supervisors who are oriented to the work that STAR performs. ACEnet supervisors of STAR residents complete a background check, drug screening, review of onboarding training videos, and meet with STAR staff. Currently, ACEnet supervisors are available in both Athens and Nelsonville ACEnet facilities to assist our food clients with receiving STAR residents.
In 2022, ACEnet Food Enterprise Coordinator, Adam Kody, has been delivering both Restaurant Ready training and ServSafe Food Handler training (curriculums are products of the National Restaurant Association) to a 2nd & 3rd cohort of STAR residents, virtually and in-person. Adam’s first cohort had 9 participants graduate from the training programs in December, his 2nd cohort had 6 graduate in February, and his 3rd cohort had 5 participants graduate in June.
ACEnet Food Ventures tenants participating in hosting STAR residents are Butcher’s Bites, Milo’s Whole World Gourmet, Ted’s Pepper Butter, Seli Foods, Farm on The Ridge, To-Go Packs and past tenant Pork & Pickles.
ACEnet would particularly like to thank Chris Quolke (ACEnet), Thom Stevenson and Medea Loibl at Ohio University, all of the staff at STAR Community Justice Center (especially Tisha Springer and Amy Reed), and all of the ACEnet tenants mentioned above.
Road to Reentry: Community Forum Revisted
On March 16th 2021, ACEnet hosted The Road to Reentry: Community Forum – Reentry information for those released between March 17 – Dec 31, 2021: What to expect when your family member gets home.
The Zoom event recording is accessible below, along with additional reentry resources. You’ll learn about the Athens County Reentry Program, ODRC reentry process, reentry processes inside prison, OMHAS (Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services) services and their connections with reentry, hear questions about the Adult Parole Authority answered, and learn about the importance of community and family involvement in the reentry process.
Additional resources include:
Athens County Reentry Program Telelog – provides useful county services contact information
Athens County Reentry Program Brochure
ODRC Reentry Community Forum PowerPoint
ACEnet General Entrepreneurship Course Descriptions
Classes may be taken in any order. Be your own boss and choose the class you need, or take them all!
1. Intro to Entrepreneurship
“Becoming a Business”
Do you work as a handyman or a contractor? Or would you like to start a home-based business or start a food business? If so, this class is for you! In this interactive workshop we’ll discuss what makes for a successful business start. You’ll explore your strengths, challenges, communication style, and professionalism.
2. Product & Service Development
“What Problem are You Solving?”
Whether you are selling a product or a service, you are creating something of value that someone else will pay money for to solve a problem. Learn how to identify market needs and how to match your products and services to meet customer needs. Product development will include proper labeling, advertising, and compliance with regulations. Service development may entail training and certificate programs as well as specialized experience to master your craft to provide high quality service.
3. Marketing & Social Media
“Marketing for Businesses”
Learn how to tell your unique story. Explore how to use text, photos, and graphics to market your business, along with how to identify and target a specific audience to market to. We’ll explore using social media and other forms of advertising to reach potential customers.
4. Licensing & Legal Requirements
“Explore Types of Businesses”
Determine the right business structure for you! Protect your investment by choosing the right structure for your business. Learn the differences between operating as a sole-proprietor and forming an LLC (limited liability company), a partnership, or a corporation. Each business type has a different purpose as well as a different legal structure and paperwork filing requirements.
5. Bookkeeping, Finance, Taxes
“Money & Finance”
How do you know if you are making or losing money? In this class you will learn how to keep good records to manage money. What information do you need to collect for taxes? In this workshop we will explore how to manage small business income and expenses through good recordkeeping. You’ll gain confidence by learning the difference between cash and accrual based accounting systems and how to balance your budget.
6. Writing a Business Plan
“Planning your Business”
Get help writing a business plan that you can use to organize your ideas and set goals for your business. This planning class is designed to help you start, grow, expand, and sustain your business. We’ll discuss the elements of a business plan and how to use your plan to organize ideas and set goals for your business. During this interactive workshop, participants will get a chance to work on their own business plans.
If you want to know more about the organizations that make up the Athens County Re-entry Task Force, or about ACenet’s role in re-entry work, check out our blog series:
Community Collaborations Provide Pathways for Post-Incarceration Reentry into the Workforce
28 Awesome Local Programs Providing Relief To Reentry Populations
Inclusion, Independence and Autonomy: Athens County’s Response to Recovery (and how ACEnet helps)