Grant #370

Defy Ventures: Post-Release Services in CT

October 28, 2019

Green Is The New Orange Is The New Black

in the USA, we’ve got over 30% of the incarcerated women in the world behind bars, but only 4% of the women in the world live in the USA. More women than ever are going to prison, serving their time in systems designed for men and largely controlled by men.

We heard about Defy Ventures from one of the many volunteers who have been helping formerly incarcerated women (and men) across the country. They teach entrepreneurial and business skills both inside prisons and to recently released individuals. Their “EIT”s (Entrepreneurs In Training) have gone on to “Defy” the odds. Only 7.2% of Defy Ventures graduates return to prison, compared to recidivism rates more than four times higher nationally. What’s more, 82% of the graduates have paying work.

Defy has served 365 incarcerated women in the in-prison program and 250 formerly incarcerated women in the post-release program nationally. They’ll start their third class at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut in December 2019.

Leveraging entrepreneurship can increase economic opportunities and transform lives. Defy offers training and support inside prison, in transitional facilities, and in the community post-incarceration. The numbers show Defy’s post-release program works to help former inmates earn money by getting and keeping meaningful employment, launching profitable businesses, and becoming more engaged family and community members.

This Awesome Without Borders grant will help Defy Ventures to host workshops, networking events, and to offer business coaching in Connecticut for the first time. Volunteers are waiting in the Constitution State! (Right now all events are in New York.) It’s a really good second chance in a world that doesn’t give many and we’re glad to help.

Follow along with Defy Ventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Category: Civic Engagement, Community, Empowerment, Social Impact, Women



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders