A Missouri entrepreneurial program is celebrating the graduation of its second class of participants. The 10 ASPIRE MO graduates are inmates at the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnosis and Correctional Center in Vandalia.
The 20-week program is facilitated by the Missouri Women's Business Center and the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Each woman entered the program with a business idea, and with the help of program staff and guest speakers, developed a business plan.
The women also got training in financial literacy, resume development, interview skills and business etiquette. Missouri Womens’ Council director Kellie Ann Coats co-facilitates ASPIRE MO. At the graduation event on December 11th, she said the program aims to give participants tools to be financially-independent after they’re released from prison.
“We wanted to take a different approach to workforce development and give them another tool in their toolbox," Coats said. "And what better way to control your destiny than to potentially be your own business owner?”
Coats said the program is slated to run again in 2020.
ASPIRE MO is a part of the Missouri Department of Corrections effort to reduce recidivism to its prisons.