In 2019 Step Out, Inc is created as a Vermont non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization to facilitate the evidence-informed Lifelong Information For Entrepreneurs (LIFE) program in Vermont’s Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. Named by the first graduating class in Oregon, LIFE is life-skill and entrepreneurial training.
LIFE was developed by Mercy Corp, in Oregon, a non-profit microfinance organization in over 40 countries with over 6,000 employees and volunteers. LIFE was designed to improve incarcerated women’s employment success as well as mental and physical health and to reduce recidivism. First implemented in Oregon’s correctional system LIFE’s curriculum was developed by a national expert in trauma-informed and gender sensitive programming for incarcerated women.
Vermont Department Of Corrections (DOC) supervisor, Theresa Stone has asked Step Out to implement a pilot LIFE class ASAP. Theresa said, “I’m excited to see the LIFE program offered to Vermont’s incarcerated women. Our women can greatly benefit from this comprehensive training and support, as they have in Oregon. CRCF doesn’t have a program quite like this one.”
Step Out aims to integrate Vermont’s public health, economic development, and criminal justice systems to achieve these goals. The Vermont Department of Labor is interested in supporting LIFE graduates with Apprenticeships.
LIFE classes are based on a framework that builds on emotional regulation and peer learning to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and leverages the potential of self-employment. LIFE covers business development, reentry planning, and character building. Marketing strategy, financial management, legal knowledge, public speaking, and time management are taught alongside personal development topics such as problem solving, goal setting, personal finances, and healthy living. The course includes conversations on credit repair and meetings with a credit counselor.