As the country’s entrepreneurs and business owners grapple with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 crisis, one group of business owners are explicitly barred from getting federal aid from the Small Business Association (SBA): formerly incarcerated people. In response, the community organization Misfits, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, released its first round of grants for formerly incarcerated business owners as part of its Barred Business campaign.
Misfits founders Bridgette Simpson, Denise Ruben, and Alexandria Seely—all three formerly incarcerated business owners themselves—are creating opportunity and capital for formerly incarcerated citizens, who are too often left out of housing, traditional employment, health care, insurance, voting, and now small business relief funding in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) amid a global pandemic. Impacted individuals are encouraged to request funds through this form.
“It’s time for this community of organizers and innovators to save itself,” said the Misfits founders. “We are tired of begging to be part of a society that openly discriminates against us even after we have paid our debts. If we aren’t allowed a seat at the table then we will create our own and invite our own people.”
Misfits is a national membership-based organization that works to educate and train both incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. The organization seeks to inform the public about the narrative of formerly incarcerated people, who are often entrepreneurs out of necessity, due to lack of employment alternatives.
“The current financial systems prove time after time that they will not include formerly incarcerated folks,” added the Misfits founders. “Mutual aid funds are an essential step in the true emancipation of people who are justice-impacted. With financial liberation, we can be free.”
For more information about Misfits and the Barred Business campaign, or to speak with one of Misfits’ founders about the initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The official website can be found at barredbusiness.org
Ways to support:
GoFundMe: Barred Business Campaign
Cash App: $barredbusiness