DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver nonprofit CrossPurpose is changing lives with their career and community development program. The six month program helps people get out of poverty by offering training to help land not just jobs, but careers. Many of the graduates are so motivated by the time they leave the program many move from careers to wanting to run their own business or nonprofit.
Kenneth Cobbin is one of them.
Thirty years ago, run-ins with law enforcement and eventually a robbery landed him behind bars.
“In 1985 I was sentenced to life in prison,” he said.
Good behavior in prison in Colorado allowed Cobbin to participate in the Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program, where he discovered his passion.
“In 2015, the law was changed to allow good time credit to people with life sentences, and a short time later I was released,” Cobbin said.
That’s when he found CrossPurpose, which helped him turn that passion into work, and eventually his own business called Gifted Paws. But, like any business owner, he needs support. And that’s where the organization’s alumni program Change Agency comes in.
“They come to us with their idea or in many cases they already have a business or non profit but they are either struggling with the business model or they need help,” Ron Saccomano, the director of Change Agency, said.
After months of working with a coach, Cobbin and three other graduates had the opportunity pitch their ideas and needs to a panel of local entrepreneurs. They call the whole process “Dolphin Tank.”
“The format is kind of similar to (television show) “Shark Tank” but we don’t have sharks, we have dolphins. Because they are a much friendlier animals,” Saccomano said.
Unlike the TV show, everyone who makes a “Dolphin Tank” pitch leaves with more than they came with.
Cobbin asked the panel for $20,000 to help expand his business and he left with $30,000.
Get more information about CrossPurpose and Change Agency at crosspurpose.org.