Posted by Carl Gerhardt on May 23, 2017
On May 23, 2017, both Charles Hearne and Tony Mayer of Prison Entrepreneur Program (PEP) spoke to the members of the Magnolia Rotary Club about the Prison Entrepreneur Program which has a mission of transforming inmates back into society as productive citizens within the community. Pictured above from left to right are: Tony Mayer (Chief Development Officer of PEP) and Charles Hearne (previous inmate and graduate of the PEP program).
Tony Mayer first spoke to the group and ask everyone to think about putting themselves into the shoes of an inmate who is released after their prison term with only a bus ticket and a $150 check. Without the ability to get meaningful employment to take care of themselves, they soon fall back into the life of crime they came from. In fact, statistics show that 90% of the inmates who get arrested the 2nd time are unemployed. Statistics also indicate that the children of felons have a 70% chance of falling into their father's footsteps and end up being arrested. Tony further explained why PEP currently only helps men in prison. Specifically, of the aproximately 150,000 inmates in prison, about 143,000 are men. However, with enough funding they hope to one day also help the women inmates.
Tony explained what PEP is. "At the Prison Entrepreneur Program (PEP), we are servant leaders on a mission to transform inmates and executives by unlocking God-given potential through entrepreneurial passion, education and mentoring". Tony further explained that the results of their program (over the past 7 years) include a return-to-prison rate of less than 10% (around 24% for non-PEP graduates in Texas), an employment rate of 100% in 90 days and over 280 businesses launched by their graduates.
Tony then turned the program over to Charles Hearne who is a graduate of the PEP peogram. With the aid of a slide presentation, Charles Hearne told his own story about being raised by a single mother who was not always able to be there but she did everything to make sure he graduated high school with good grades. Although Charles joined the military, a serious injury caused him to be discharged before he could get the training he needed. Without a job and with extra time on his hands after getting out of the military, he feel into the wrong crowd and eventually ended up in prison. At that point in his life, he decided that his life was over in terms of ever being employed or of making anything of himself as he had planned after joining the military. However, because of the PEP program, all of that has changed and he now helps Tony to talk to potential donors by explining his own success with the program. He hopes to one day start his own business.
Tony then explained that PEP has been successful at starting the "AutoLab" franchise with two AutoLab stores in Houston that hire some of the PEP graduates. PEP is hoping to start up a 3rd franchise somewhere in Montgomery County in the not too distant future. Some of the facts about PEP can be seen in the scanned document below:
For more information about PEP, go to