Dragonfly Thrift Boutique

Finding gainful employment is one of the many challenges facing women transitioning from prison. Obstacles to employment range from discrimination from employers who refuse to even consider hiring a woman with a criminal record to limited education and work experience to the lack of access to rehabiliative in-prison program.

In an effort to overcome these barriers, LEAP created our own social enterprise,  the Dragonfly Thrift Boutique. LEAP provides paid retail job training at Dragonfly Thrift Boutique. Training at the Dragonfly includes customer service, computer skills, photography, social media, inventory management and more. In addition to providing a first job and paycheck, Dragonfly hosts community events. The retail environment and community events provide a welcoming environment to women who are typically ostracized and subject to judgment when they attempt to re-integrate back into society.

Entrepreneurship Academy

LEAP’s Virtual Entrepreneurial Academy teaches business skills to women who have experienced incarceration. Over the course of a fun and interactive 12 weeks of classes students learn the nuts and bolts of starting a micro-business. Topics include essential financial, marketing and legal business concepts. Students also learn strategies for how to present their ideas to family, friends and potential investors. Students who successfully complete the course will create their own business plans, which they will “pitch” to a panel of entrepreneurs for a chance to win cash prizes. Graduates of the Entrepreneurship Academy are also eligible to apply for up to $1,000 in financing for their business  LEAP also matches  graduates with a business mentor and all graduates enjoy membership in LEAP’s alumni network.

By completing the multi-disciplinary entrepreneurship curriculum, participants not only develop the financial literacy, interpersonal skills, and knowledge needed to create a micro-enterprise post release, but also to be more successful employees.

LEAP offers two academies a year and they classes meet online Tuesday and Thursday evenings. If you are interested in applying for admission, please submit a program application HERE. The application is on a rolling basis, meaning we are always accepting applications for our next academy. A LEAP staff member will contact you shortly to explore your interest in the program. If you have any questions about the program or how to apply, please do not hesitate to contact Nina Roque, Director of Development & Government Affairs, at nina@leapforladies.org.

FAQ

Why is the LEAP Entrepreneurship Academy limited to women who have experienced incarceration?

Over the past 13 years, LEAP has delivered entrepreneurial training and other classes to women in prison. During that time, we have seen that women who have experienced incarceration appreciate learning in a supportive environment with instructors and fellow students who “get” where they are coming from. At LEAP, we believe a woman “with a past” need not feel ashamed. Rather, her past can be embraced  as part of her story that shows strength, resilience and determination — all important attributes for a budding entrepreneur!

Do you help with business financing?

Graduates of the LEAP Entrepreneurship Academy are eligible for micro loans from LEAP for up to $1000.

What if I want to start a non-profit business?

On occasion, we have students determined to start non profits (which we think is amazing!) and they have found that most of the principles of developing a for profit business plan apply to their non profit ideas. However, the LEAP Entrepreneurship Academy is geared toward for profit enterprises, and does not include specific instruction related to non profits.

How much does the course cost?

LEAP is able to provide scholarships to all accepted students thanks to funding from generous sponsors who believe in fair chances and opportunities for women who have experienced incarceration. The only requirement is that students have a sincere desire to start a business, time to attend class and complete work, and a serious commitment and readiness to fully participate in class.

I can’t attend this class, will you offer it again?

Yes, LEAP graduates 2 entrepreneurship classes per year, you can apply here for the next class.

What if I have never been convicted of a crime?

Sorry, this class is ONLY for women who have directly experienced the criminal justice system as a defendant.

Do I need a computer to participate?

Yes. While it is possible to log onto class with a smartphone, to fully participate and get the most out of class you will need a computer. (Tip: many libraries lend computers in addition to books!)