On October 3rd, host Bev Livingston speaks with Small Business Administration (SBA) Region 7 Administrator, Mr. Vercie Lark, about the new strategic partnerships to increase small business ownership opportunities for formerly incarcerated citizens.
There have been two Strategic Alliance Memorandums (SAMs) announced between the SBA Kansas City District Office and Determination Incorporated and Reaching Out From Within, two Kansas City area organizations.
The SAMs ensure SBA products and services information is made available to formerly incarcerated and individuals incarcerated but about to be released in the Kansas City area.
This was intended to and has been helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals learn how to get into business for themselves at a time when their ability to find a job is usually hindered by their previous records.,” said Mr. Lark. “Mass incarceration has taken its toll on American families and communities, especially black and brown communities. Six hundred ten thousand people are released from state and federal prisons each year in the U.S and almost four million are on parole or probation. It is vital for the health of our nation that we do everything we can to help people not go back to prison and to stop the intergenerational cycle of incarceration. Children with incarcerated parents are six times more likely to go to prison than their peers,” he noted.
Determination, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission since 2018 has been to empower formerly incarcerated individuals to seize employment and entrepreneurial opportunity in home improvement and residential construction. The organization’s vision is to help formerly incarcerated individuals to start viable, hiring businesses, and will help to solve the problem of recidivism and ultimately end mass incarceration.
Reaching Out From Within (ROFW), another non-profit, operates at 10 correctional facilities in the state of Kansas and is expanding to more states. It was established in 1982 in Kansas as an incarcerated-led program that empowers residents to transform themselves and heal each other. SBA information will be included in their curriculum The Blue Book™. This constantly evolving document in conjunction with the weekly meeting format strives to give inmates the opportunity to find the courage within themselves to break the relentless chain of automatic violence haunting their lives. Rates of recidivism for program members show a huge drop.
“It was certainly a blessing when Mr. Lark suggested that it may be possible for the Small Business Administration to develop a project to offer microloan financing to returning citizens from incarceration. Having served as Executive Director of Reaching Out From Within, Inc., a nonprofit organization serving returning citizens during the past two and a half years, I have found many to struggle with self-esteem and identity upon their return to society. Mr. Lark’s desire to explore such an initiative for budding entrepreneurs and prospective business owners is truly an opportunity to enhance the pathway to a productive life going forward,” said Jim Echols, Executive Director.
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.
We will then again play our program from a few years ago when I spoke with Michael Kaye, Professor of Law Emeritas at Washburn University about his work with the police and school administrators to define the role of officers in their schools. This topic is as current and important now as it was then and we need to do more work on how students are treated at schools.
Police officers are fixtures in most schools today and their role has changed over time from protecting the students from outside dangers to enforcing school rules and even arresting students for violations. Our guest has been working with one school district to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the police and school administrators and hopefully turn off the school to prison pipeline.
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On Jaws of Justice, we examine how to find justice in our society. Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.
Calendar for the week of October 3rd:
- Legal Aid of Western Missouri provides free civil legal services to low-income and vulnerable people in Jackson CTY Missouri. Interested individuals can call 816-474-6750 to apply.
- Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a very active group of Mothers and others. You can learn where their virtual meetings this week will occur at https://momsdemandaction.org/events/
- MON, Oct. 3rd, 6 PM, the League of Women Voters of Kansas City will explain how the ballot measure process works in Missouri and provide a balanced overview of the ballot measures the voters will see on the ballot. At the Central Library in Kansas City MO. There will be several ballot measures on the November 8 general election ballot which require voter approval. One of these measures directly affects Kansas City and would allow the state legislature to require Kansas City to increase police spending without state reimbursement. Among other measures on the ballot, one would call for a Missouri Constitutional Convention while another would seek to legalize recreational marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana offenses from criminal records. The voter registration deadline for the November 8 election is October 12 and you will have an opportunity to register to vote at this session!
- WED, Oct. 5th, 10:30 AM, KC Networking Event, Equal Minded Cafe, 4327 Troost Ave, KCMO. Empower Missouri asks you to come meet the Empower Missouri team and other anti-poverty advocates at our October Meet & Greet! You can come be in community with other anti-poverty advocates, learn more about their work, and talk about priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided, with additional options available for purchase. There is no dress code, please wear what makes you happy and comfortable! Registration is encouraged, but not required, but you can register at https://bit.ly/EM-networking-KC
- WED, Oct. 5th, 6 PM, Legislating Domestic Violence is a live event with a panel discussing the pros and cons of legislating domestic violence as a private issue, rather than addressing it as a public health issue. Hosted by The Willow Domestic Violence Center, at the Cider Gallery 810 Pennsylvania Street Lawrence, KS
- WED, Oct. 5th, 7 PM, Sherrie Rollins Westin will speak at the Dole Institute, Lawrence KS. She is President of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. Rollins Westin leads the organization’s efforts to serve vulnerable children through mass media and targeted initiatives in the United States and around the world.
- FRI, Oct. 7th, NOON, Empower Missouri’s Friday Forum in on Tenant’s Unions, register at https://empowermissouri.org/events/friday-forum-oct-2022/
- SAT, Oct. 8th, 2022 Ballot Information Session: 10 AM KCMO Public Library – Bluford, 3050 Prospect Ave, 64128. League of Women Voters – Greater KC. You can join for ballot information sessions! Light refreshments will be provided for in-person events. You will learn how the ballot measure process works in Missouri and hear a balanced overview of the ballot measures you will see on the ballot.
- SAT, Oct. 8th, NOON, Mothers of Incarcerated Sons & Daughters KC Monthly session, at Plexpod Westport Commons centrally located on bus line, easy to find at 300 E. 39th St KCMO (Annex A) meeting room with convenient parking and much more.
- SAT, Oct. 8th, 12:30 PM Tenant Takeover: 12:30 pm, Ilus W Davis Park, 1000 Locust, KCMO. KC Tenants Power is led by tenants in Kansas City, organizing to take our city back and to house the people. This is a sibling organization of KC Tenants, the citywide tenant union in Kansas City. This rally is to share a vision for a city where the people come before profits, we invest in our neighborhoods, and we can afford to live and thrive.
If we can crash something into an asteroid to see what happens why can’t we invest in housing everyone and see what happens? –L Joy Williams
- A list of services, meals, and hot lines specific to sheltering are available at https://lawrenceprogressivecalendar.blogspot.com/ It is updated daily.
Stay safe. Be kind to each other.