One of our recent UVI graduates is Jelani Hall, a man who is incarcerated on St. Croix. Jelani attends classes online every week. During their trip to the Virgin Islands, Professors Mike Caslin and Shawn Smith were able to visit Jelani at the John A. Bell Adult Correctional Facility.
Dr. Suzanne Darrow-Magras, The Director of the Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (UVI CELL) at the University of the Virgin Islands, has this to say:
"GCSEN, or the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network, is an organization that provides training and support to social entrepreneurs worldwide. Recently, GCSEN partnered with the USVI Bureau of Corrections, through the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning and their EDA University Center, to offer a Social Entrepreneurship program to those incarcerated at the John A. Bell Adult Correctional Facility on St. Croix.
Four individuals participated in the program, which provided training in Social Entrepreneurship 101 (SE101). SE101 is a foundational course that introduces participants to the principles of social entrepreneurship and provides them with the tools to develop their own social enterprise ventures. The course covers topics such as identifying social problems, creating a business plan, and developing a pitch.
One of the participants in the program, Jelani Hall, recently graduated and received his SE101 certificate. GCSEN representatives visited Mr. Hall at the John A. Bell Adult Correctional Facility to present him with his certificate. The occasion was emotional and joyous, as Mr. Hall was recognized for his hard work and dedication to the program.
The SE101 program is designed to provide inmates with the skills and knowledge they need to start their own social enterprise ventures upon release. Social entrepreneurship offers a path to financial independence and self-sufficiency, as well as an opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities."
Not only has Mr. Hall completed SE101, but he and other students recently began a new semester and are already engaging in SE102. Jelani is working on a video game social venture to connect dispersed island families. A scene from a coaching session is below.
Dr. Darrow-Magras concludes, "By providing inmates with the tools to become social entrepreneurs, GCSEN and the USVI Bureau of Corrections are helping to break the cycle of recidivism and empower individuals to create positive change in their lives and in their communities.
In conclusion, the GCSEN Social Entrepreneurship program for the USVI Bureau of Corrections is an innovative and inspiring initiative that offers inmates an opportunity to learn valuable skills and create positive change in their lives and communities. Congratulations to Jelani Hall on his graduation and best of luck to all of the program's participants as they continue on their social entrepreneurship journeys."