Today’s economic climate allows employers their pick of candidates, leaving few options for anyone with a record. Young black men, who’ve had no brushes with the law, still routinely face real barriers in getting on a job ladder’s lowest rung.
According to a 2005 Princeton study, “Discrimination in Low Wage Labor Markets,” young white high school graduates were nearly twice as likely to receive positive responses from employers as equally qualified black job seekers. Even without criminal records, black applicants had low rates of positive responses – about the same as the response rate for white applicants with criminal records.
This is where entrepreneurship comes in. For example, a report done by the Justice Policy Institute states that, “…recidivism is higher for those persons who are unable to obtain employment after leaving prison and imposes a high cost on society; and yet employment opportunities are especially limited for ex-convicts. Thus self-employment would be a viable alternative for ex-offenders, at least for those with above average entrepreneurial aptitude…” Someone like a Lawrence Carpenter.
The City Startup Labs approach is to conduct an Entrepreneur’s Academy, offering accelerated instruction to inner-city young men (usually 18 to 24 years old) who aspire to start and operate their own businesses. Students progress through a set of modules, including a core curriculum provided by the Kauffman Foundation. Among other things, this curriculum builds a working knowledge of the fundamentals of planning and managing a business.