On Starting Anew…

On Starting Anew…


In President Biden’s proclamation marking April as Second Chance Month, it was mentioned that every year, over 640,000 people are released from State and Federal prisons. More than 70 million Americans have a criminal record that creates significant barriers to employment, economic stability, and successful reentry into society. Thousands of legal and regulatory restrictions prevent these individuals from accessing employment, housing, voting, education, business licensing, and other basic opportunities. Because of these barriers, nearly 75 percent of people who were formerly incarcerated are still unemployed a year after being released.  

And according to the Prison Policy Initiative, the percentage continues to grow each year following the release of the formerly incarcerated.

City Startup Labs attended the 2023 North Carolina Reentry Conference hosted by the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction. The conference, held in Charlotte, convened stakeholders from across the state and region to provide critical reentry information, share best practices, network, exchange ideas, raise awareness, and advocate for systemic reform. CSL’s Restorative Pathways initiative was highlighted with attendees hearing from LeeRoy Jordan, RP’s Program Director, Cynthia Bailey, of Atrium Health and Jeremy Danner, an RP alum and Atrium teammate.

BlkTech Interactive is hosting a new workshop series – Fundable. These hands-on sessions cover four critical fundraising topics: angel investing, equity crowdfunding, SBIR grants (Americas SEED Fund) and Pitch Deck Essentials. Each session, focused on the needs of Black tech founders in North Carolina, will delve into fundamental fundraising strategies and tactics that can be effective for ventures at different stages of development and is led by subject matter expert.

The 1st workshop, on May 25th in Charlotte, will delve into angel investing.

This event is in association with Charlotte Innovation Week, a multi-day celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Queen City. The week features various events held throughout the city and hosted by different organizations such as ours. Check out the entire calendar at charlotteinnovationweek.com.

We want to shine a spotlight on Travis Williams – even though he would perfer not to be under one. Travis is the Program Director of ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program (REEP). He survived a pretty tumultuous upbringing and a course that led to Federal prison. It was there that he embarked on a rigorous path of personal transformation. After his release, he completed CSL’s REEP pilot in 2019 in Charlotte, NC. Applying what he learned in REEP helped him secure a management position at a Fortune 500 company. 

Travis focuses his experiences and education to design, develop, and implement solutions to address the pressing issues of socioeconomic mobility particularly among justice-impacted persons and returning citizens. He makes use of solid entrepreneurial instincts and dedication to REEP’s mission to this role. He imagines refining and solidifying REEP’s efforts to unlock the productivity, innovative spirit, entrepreneurial talent, and capacity among this population. We’re really lucky have him on the team.

Finally, we invite you to take a look around our refreshed website.  For example, City Startup Labs has adopted a new Theory of Change. Click here and learn more about our transformative principles. 

As you can see, we have quite a bit going on at City Startup Labs, but with each day we gladly “start anew” and count every blessing.

With Gratitude ~

Henry Rock, Founder & Executive Director City Startup Labs

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