An estimated 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals remain unemployed one year after their release, raising the risk of recidivism and resulting in lost lifetime earnings. This cycle has major implications for American families as nearly half of all U.S. children have at least one parent with a criminal record. In 2015, SBA expanded its Microloan Program to small business owners currently on probation or parole.
In 2016, The leaders of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) and microlender Justine PETERSEN formed the Aspire Entrepreneurship Initiative, a groundbreaking new $2.1 million partnership to expand access to entrepreneurial education and microloans for formerly incarcerated individuals, with a specific focus on those who are parents. The program launched in St. Louis in the fall of 2016 and rolled out in 2017 in Chicago and Detroit.
Today, we are speaking with Galen Gondolfi, the Chief Communications Officer with STL based Justine Petersen, a nationally recognized asset development organization and microlender. We will learn more about this program and the impact it is having in our region.