You know us as Defy Ventures Colorado. Since 2017, we have been tackling the problems of mass incarceration and recidivism in Colorado. We have worked in three facilities within the Department of Corrections and served nearly 200 individuals. We have learned that we need to be agile to respond to what we are see on the ground in our communities. We have learned that leveraging entrepreneurship as a mindset is helpful to our program participants as we support them in their career development and re-entry goals. We have learned that our community, specifically employers, need more support to provide fair employment opportunities to our program participants. We have learned that human connection matters the most as we seek transformation behind prison walls and in our communities. We have learned that it’s time for us to breakthrough.
That’s why we’ve chosen Breakthrough as the new name of the organization you have loved, supported, and volunteered with over the past four years. One of our people inside, Rhidale, said Breakthrough is best at “bringing a tangible and accessible network into a place that historically doesn’t have that. One major transformation is creating greater circles of contribution and no longer limiting the scope of achievement to being someone’s laborer. Another option is saying you can dream as much as you want to, and here are the resources for success. You’re not limited because you’ve made a mistake.”
At Breakthrough, we are passionate about solving the problem of mass incarceration and recidivism. Our goal is for 100% of our program participants to be stable and have meaningful jobs, relationships, and communities. To make this possible, we are changing a few things but keeping a lot the same. Breakthrough is committed to reforming society’s response to incarceration, building connections across communities, equipping participants for successful reintegration, and advocating for awareness of our shared humanity.
Reforming Society’s Response to Incarceration
Change doesn’t just happen; we create it. Through compassion, connection, and community, we provide opportunities for our society to learn more about the problems of over-incarceration and challenge their preconceived notions about people with felony convictions. We will continue to educate the public about the criminal justice system and how the public can help effect change. We are focusing our efforts on removing the barriers that have systematically excluded people with criminal histories. This year, we are launching our Fair Opportunity Employer Program to teach employers how to obtain and maintain Fair Opportunity talent. We will also be focusing on innovative criminal justice reform efforts.
Building Connections Across Communities
Our volunteers work with our people inside and out, building a supportive environment with a strong sense of community and shared experience. We call them volunteers, but in reality, these coaches, business and community leaders, friends, and family members are the secret sauce at Breakthrough. Thanks to them, we can to leverage substantial legal, business and finance, marketing and PR, logistical and operational experience, and expertise for the benefit of our program participants. And with more than 400 volunteers who have joined us in coaching and mentoring our people, we’re just getting started!
Equipping Participants for Successful Reintegration
Every person deserves to be seen, heard, and challenged to rise above their past to breakthrough to a better tomorrow. When our people leverage entrepreneurship as a mindset, they can harness existing skills as they prepare for reintegration, their career, and community membership. We have created a new curriculum in partnership with Colorado State University, Techstars, Google Boulder, and PAIRIN, strengthening local ties. Our people will develop vital soft skills, prepare for reentry, get ready for employment, and learn the basics of entrepreneurship. Soft skills are the foundation for everything taught in our program. The soft skills that are key to a growth mindset are emotional self-awareness, self-assessment, self-alignment, self-confidence, self-blame, self-restraint, stress tolerance, and resiliency.
Advocating for Awareness of Our Shared Humanity
We accept people as they are–all humans are worthy of humanity. We embrace authentic connections and aim to build bridges across cultural gaps. We invite people from all backgrounds to join together in all-out belonging.