Meet the second chance entrepreneurs in the inaugural Rise up, Get Started Matching Grant cohort

It is an honor to introduce you to the inaugural cohort of the Rise Up, Get Started Matching Grant Program. These 16 second chance entrepreneurs were chosen from 50 applicants because they articulated a clear path to profitability and potentially job creation through their businesses.

Narrowing down the field was not an easy decision for the Determination, Incorporated team. After considering a multitude of factors, we feel we have selected the group of formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs that we can best help to strengthen and grow their businesses in 2021. Here they are:

Pictured above left to right, top to bottom:  

  • Diamond FuseBizzy Babies LLC
  • David Alexander Miller Jr.: We Wood: Custom Decks
  • Matthew Stone:  Kingdoms Contracting LLC
  • Latahra N Smith: Trinity CPR & First Aide Services
  • Jon Hyatt: J’s Lawn and Landscape
  • Craig Lark:  Craig’s Food Truck
  • Brandon and Dawneshia Webb:  Freshly Made Scents, LLC
  • Raymond N Walker:  Mainline: Prison-inspired dishes
  • Jenny Henry:  Aunt Jenny’s “Table of Plenty” Urban Farm & Homestead
  • Sean Gasaway:  Jefe, LLC
  • Victor L. Townes:  Flick Your Light On, LLC
  • Robert O’Neal Miller Jr:  ROMElectric & Home Automation
  • Jamon Buford:  Good Brothers Construction And Remodeling
  • Teresa Conard:  Scrapbook Nostalgia
  • Damien M. Johnson Jr.:  Supreme Cuts (Not pictured)
  • Anthony Wilder:  Wilder’s Drive Team (Not pictured)

We look forward to working with each of these second chance entrepreneurs, and to introducing them to you in more depth in the coming months. Click here to learn more about the specifics of the program

Each of the cohort members agreed to our accountability statement when they accepted their position. Here it is to give you a peek at what our community has set out to achieve in 2021:  

As a member of the Rise Up, Get Started Matching Grant program, I make a commitment to myself, those who count on me, and the Determination, Incorporated second chance entrepreneur community to make a good faith effort to stay connected, active, teachable, helpful, honest, and hard working during the program. (Now thru July 2021)

  • Connected: I will prioritize regular and open communication with the Determination, Incorporated (DNI) team, and will do my best to engage with the second chance entrepreneur community through the Facebook group and other avenues. 
  • Active: I will make every effort to attend the biweekly virtual Be the Boss business support groups on Zoom and will communicate with the DNI team whenever I am unable to attend. I understand that in order for my business to succeed, I must dedicate my time and take constant steps toward that goal.
  • Teachable: Entrepreneurship is a learning process and starting a business requires thinking, doing, and dreaming. I will remain open to new ideas and will discern what is best for my journey. I will ask questions whenever I don’t understand something or have a blind spot on my radar. And I will humbly receive feedback from my customers, other second chance entrepreneurs, and the fruits of my labor, seeing all of it as an opportunity to grow. 
  • Helpful: Realizing that time is a limited resource and that I must use mine carefully and with great intention, I will make every effort to help other second chance entrepreneurs in the DNI community in any way that I can. Giving often pays off more than receiving, and I will strive to be an entrepreneur who gives back.
  • Honest: Deception is short sighted and harmful to myself and others. I will always strive to be an entrepreneur who speaks and acts truthfully, who tells it like it is and asks others for guidance, and will admit if I have made a mistake out of ignorance or malice. 
  • Hard working: By accepting my spot in the Rise Up, Get Started Matching Grant program, I acknowledge that I am committing to all of the above and that I am dedicating my time, talents, and resources to moving my business forward. This will require working while others rest, learning while others party, and making new friends while others fall back on old ones. I am willing to make those sacrifices because I believe in my ability to succeed as an entrepreneur. 

This accountability statement is a tall order, one that all of us will fall short of in one way or another. Thankfully, there’s more than enough grace to go around, and lots of good work to be done. 

Please keep our second chance entrepreneur community in your thoughts and prayers this year. And if you see any way that you’d like to help or support… let us know!

… … …

Support second chance entrepreneurs by donating to Determination, Incorporated. Every dollar goes directly to second chance entrepreneurs through our Rise Up, Get Started Matching Grant program.

Sign up to receive second chance entrepreneur stories in your inbox in our High Five Thursday newsletter. Share your wisdom in our crowdsourced Generate newsletter to help men and women in prison.

Determination, Incorporated is a 501C3 nonprofit in KCMO creating a pathway of opportunity for formerly incarcerated people through entrepreneurship. To learn more, contact us here.

Follow us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.