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The Future Start's Now...!

Mumineen Community Development Corporation’s Hustle & Build entrepreneurial training program kicks off on with classes starting on April 20th, at Martin University. If you’re wondering (and I know you’re wondering) why this program is so important, let me take a moment of your time to explain.

There has been quite a bit of discussion, including on this platform, about empowering the disenfranchised, especially those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. But what does empowerment mean for the justice involved? This is an important question because it is a term that is often associated with re-entry/transitional efforts from periods of incarceration and rehabilitation. The issue at hand is whether or not the conventional services extended to justice involved individuals can be classified as being empowering.

It's imperative to differentiate between essential services such as food, clothing, and shelter, which undoubtedly serve immediate needs, versus the perpetuation of a dependency cycle. Continually providing for individuals who have long relied on institutional care may inadvertently reinforce a sense of entitlement rather than cultivating genuine empowerment.

In fact, the fundamental issue lies in the common expectation among those reintegrating into society that their needs should be met by external parties; a mindset ingrained during their incarceration. While imprisoned, there was always someone who provided them with a meal, clothes and place to lay their heads every night. It might have been under less-than-ideal conditions, but their basic needs were met. This notion of entitlement creates a discord between their expectations and the realities of community life, contributing to societal challenges like homelessness and recidivism.

Naturally, the real world doesn’t work like this. One cannot expect to have a reasonably successful life if they simply depend on someone else to provide for their needs. However, years of ingrained conditioning within the corridors of the criminal justice system imparts a completely different mindset on the justice involved. So much so, that upon release, this paradigm of entitlement creates a social disconnect between the newly released and the communities they are returning to; each party having completely different expectations of one another.

The pushback that results from this dissonance is pretty evident, with homelessness and recidivism topping the list. Neither the individuals directly affected, nor the communities that have to deal with these outcomes are particularly satisfied with this dilemma. The answer, of course, is to initiate a paradigm shift in the minds of the justice involved – from one of entitlement to one of empowerment. How can we accomplish this?

The simple answer is employment. Empowerment, fundamentally, entails possessing agency and control over one's life. Employment not only provides financial autonomy but also fosters a sense of belonging and productivity within the community, mitigating homelessness and recidivism. Unfortunately, employment is a challenging prospect for the justice involved.

According to an analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative, the unemployment rate for the justice-involved is approximately 27%. This contrasts with the current national unemployment rate of 3.9%. In fact, for comparison, the national unemployment rate at the height of the Great Depression was 25%! Needless to say, this places the justice-involved in a precarious predicament; the very thing they need to successfully reintegrate into their communities as a successful and functional member of society is being denied.

The disparity is even more dire for minorities. According to the Office of Justice Program, while a felonious background reduces a white person’s chance of receiving an employment offer by 50%, the chances of African Americans with justice involvement of receiving a job offer is reduced by 65%! What can we do about this?

Well, absent sweeping legislation and the dismissal of maligning stereotypes in the minds of the general population, the options are truly limited. Limited, but impossible. Confronted with this issue, Mumineen CDC considered how we could directly have an impact in addressing this concern. Our motto is to alleviate, then elevate. How could we do this with the justice-involved individuals we serve?

Enter Hustle & Build, a program specifically designed to empower justice-involved individuals by nurturing their entrepreneurial aspirations. Structured as a comprehensive 10-week course, it covers essential aspects of business ownership, with a distinct focus on capital investment strategies. We believe that by equipping participants with the skills to attract financial backing and navigate investment landscapes, Hustle & Build transcends conventional entrepreneurial training. It promotes sustainable business development while concurrently fostering personal growth through self-development components.

Our commitment, however, extends beyond the alleviation of immediate challenges; we aspire to elevate the social identity and cognitive reasoning of our participants. Through proven behavioral therapy techniques, we endeavor to instill a mindset conducive to success and community integration. We are taking a holistic approach to our program offering, providing our participants with well rounded business and life tools. 

Will we change the world with Hustle & Build? Yes! While our ambition to change the world may seem audacious, the transformative potential of Hustle & Build lies in its ability to open doors of hope and opportunity for each participant. As they reenter their communities armed with newfound skills and perspectives, the ripple effects of their success reverberate, expanding the realm of possibility for all.



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