Research Report

Entrepreneurship for the Formerly Incarcerated: A Process Evaluation of the Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizens (PERC) Program

Published: June, 2019

Formerly incarcerated individuals may be unable to secure stable employment and struggle to acquire income; however, starting their own business may offer an alternative to the traditional job market. Researchers evaluated the Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizen (PERC) program which offered training and opportunities to start a business to those returning to Cook County from Illinois prisons. Researchers examined delivery of PERC’s entrepreneurship training; views of program participants and training staff about the program; program completion; and knowledge gains through analysis of data from focus groups, surveys, interviews, and administrative records. Feedback from staff and participants was mostly positive and the program increased entrepreneurship knowledge. However, program engagement with returning citizens was a challenge—22 percent attended week one of class (of 72 accepted and assigned to PERC) and 12 completed PERC training.