Charlottesville, Virginia


Reentering the job market after incarceration comes with a difficult set of challenges, from lack of training for well-paying jobs to discriminatory hiring practices against those with criminal records. Add the complicated reasons why most people end up in trouble with the law in the first place—PTSD and domestic abuse, poverty, and limited employment opportunities—and it’s not surprising that recidivism rates are so high.

Enter Resilience Education, an innovative approach to helping prisoners transition to post-incarceration professional success, while giving future business leaders an understanding of the challenges they face. The brainchild of executive director Tierney Fairchild and her husband Gregory Fairchild, a professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the initiative enlists M.B.A. students as volunteer instructors to teach coursework on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and the foundations of business. Since 2011, more than 200 instructors from Darden and the Columbia Business School have taught in Virginia and New York prisons, graduating over 700 students.

With funding from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, Resilience Education has been able to transition unpaid staff to full-time positions, a critical step as it expands into its sixth facility. Funding from the Trust and other partners also ensures that graduates of the program have the resources they need to succeed, from coaching and building professional networks to navigating the workplace.

Above: Resilience Entrepreneurship Program graduate Helenia Bragg says participation in the program helped her discover her potential and built self-esteem and confidence.