By Jeff Todd


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– A Colorado program is helping people go from inmate to entrepreneur by providing business skills to people looking to turn their lives around. The program is truly a “Fresh Start.”

fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

Williams Soul Food LA (credit: CBS)

“This program is primarily for formerly incarcerated and their families to reduce recidivism and reduce crime,” said Pastor Ben Anderson from the Solid Rock Community Development Corporation.

fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

Ben Anderson (credit: CBS)

Solid Rock CDC teamed up with the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center to provide the curriculum for the Fresh Start program.

fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

(credit: Solid Rock Christian Center)

“This is the first of its kind where dollars are taken from Department of Corrections and invested in community,” Anderson said. “We teach inventory, we teach budgeting, we teach marketing, we teach customer service. It does allow people to believe in themselves and to understand that you can own a business and you can be very successful at it.”

Ernest Williams fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

Ernest and Jackie Williams (credit: Ernest and Jackie Williams)

Ernest and Jackie Williams found the program and used it to help their soul food catering company expand.

fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

Williams Soul Food LA (credit: CBS)

“Even if you own a business, you still need to come because I’m sure there’s some things you don’t know. And they can improve it for you,” Jackie said.

Jackie Williams fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

Jackie Williams (credit: CBS)

“He encouraged us to do better things for ourselves. Be a shining star for the community,” Ernest said.

Ernest Williams fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

Ernest Williams (credit: CBS)

Fresh Start has already seen 122 graduates. Businesses from clothing lines to dog grooming. Small loans are available to some of the businesses.

fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

Williams Soul Food LA (credit: CBS)

“We were like a family. We still connect we still talk to each other to see how it’s going,” Jackie said about the other entrepreneurs she took the program with.

Anderson says the program is in year two of a five-year study. The results could be extended throughout the state.

fresh start williams soul food catering inmates

(credit: Solid Rock Christian Center)

“If we could have more funding, we could possibly be in more facilities across our state.” To be more effective with individuals coming out of the system,” He said. “If we get the proper funding, (28) you will see a decrease in crime, you will see a decrease in recidivism.”

Jeff Todd

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