In front of friends, family, and faculty at Georgetown University, the inaugural cohort of 15 fellows graduated on June 21 from the Pivot Program, which offers a certificate in business and entrepreneurship for Washington, D.C., residents released from local correctional facilities who show strong potential to become successful leaders and role models in their communities. [Watch the video]
In late 2018, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative collaborated with the District of Columbia government to launch the program to help break the cycle of recidivism in the city while also empowering the fellows to break through the barriers to employment typically faced by returning citizens.
The ceremony included remarks from Pivot Fellows Olayemi Oladiji and Corey Pollard, whose classmates chose them to be the graduation speakers.
“Over the past eight months, we have embarked on a journey that will be with us forever,” said Oladiji. “I am happy to have taken it with every [fellow]. I have observed diligence, perseverance, and resiliency. They are motivated, adaptable individuals. The responsibility of civic duty to the community is at the forefront of their minds. They are all admirable leaders. Being a part of the Pivot Program, we have blazed a trail that many others will trek.”
Pollard reflected on the transformational nature of the program.
“[The Pivot Program] helped to strip my old personality and create a new one,” said Pollard. “This is how I was given some sense of hope. It was beyond just getting a job, but rather creating jobs in my local community.”
Melissa Bradley (B’89), adjunct professor, Georgetown McDonough and managing director, 1863 Ventures, delivered the graduation address.
“I am proud of my alma mater every day, but this is probably my proudest moment,” said Bradley. “Through the university’s commitment to this program, the wider D.C. community, and the world at large, I am thrilled that Georgetown University chose to expand its care and support of those that many others have written off, ignored, overlooked, misunderstood, or even assumed the worst.”
This summer, the fellows will either continue to develop their business ideas at the Georgetown Venture Lab or pursue employment with their internship organizations or other businesses.
The Pivot Program represents a partnership between Georgetown University and the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES), with the support from a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency. Georgetown is responsible for curriculum, teaching, and internship placements, while DOES provides financial support to participants, job coaching, and admissions referrals and guidance. The DC Mayor’s Office For Returning Citizens also supports the program.