The Georgetown Pivot Program is a new, non-credit-bearing certificate in business and entrepreneurship created specifically for formerly incarcerated individuals. Designed and delivered by Georgetown faculty, the Pivot Program is a one-year transition and re-entry program centered on a blend of academic work and supported employment.

Across the United States, more than seven million Americans currently are under some form of correctional control – including incarceration, parole, and probation – and one in four adults has a criminal record. In the District of Columbia alone, roughly 5,000 individuals are released from prison or jail every year, and less than half of them find sustainable employment. This perpetuates a cycle of crime and incarceration, with devastating effects on families, communities, and the broader economy.

The Pivot Program seeks to break that cycle and recapture this untapped human capital by supporting a set of people who have previously made mistakes, served their time, and are committed to becoming successful leaders and role models in their communities. Our approach is based on the premise that a combination of higher education and employment – together with the social, emotional, and intellectual development that takes place in a university environment – will succeed in preparing returning citizens for positions as both entrepreneurial leaders or productive employees.

The Pivot Program represents a collaboration between Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, the McDonough School of Business, and Georgetown College with substantial support from the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs, and the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development.

How It Works

Pivot Program fellowships are full-time commitments. Approximately half time is spent in class and training, and half in internships. At the end of the academic year, fellows choose between one of two transition phase tracks: incubation or employment. Those opting to create their own business are provided with work space, business coaching, legal support, and access to resources; those seeking permanent employment are placed in off-campus internships with local employers. For the duration of the program, Pivot Program Fellows receive a weekly internship stipend from the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES), providing a strong incentive to complete the program.

The principal goal is employment readiness – and the program is designed to prepare participants for a range of post-program outcomes: sustainable employment, owning and operating their own businesses, and/or continuing their education. The curriculum provides both training in the fundamentals of business and entrepreneurship, as well as general knowledge and liberal arts courses (literature, economics, philosophy, and civic engagement). The program also includes modules on professional and life skills, such as personal finance, career planning, business communications and business etiquette, public speaking, self-advocacy, and conflict resolution.

The emphasis on entrepreneurship is intentional – while fellows are not required to start a business, they are taught how to adopt and apply an entrepreneurial mindset and to feel a greater sense of empowerment. We believe this increased confidence will result in a more positive career trajectory and an enhanced ability to respond to social and regulatory barriers.

Who is Eligible?

The Georgetown Pivot Program is a highly selective program intended for individuals who are emotionally ready to commit to a rigorous, one-year academic and employment program. Applicants to the Pivot Program must be D.C. residents age 25 and above with a high school diploma or GED who were last incarcerated within the past two years. Up to 20 individuals will be invited to participate in each cohort.

If you would like to learn more about how apply to the Georgetown Pivot Program or would like to recommend an individual for consideration by the selection committee, please contact Joshua.Miller@georgetown.edu.

Employ a Pivot Program Fellow

We are seeking support from firms and organizations that are willing to provide an internship placement for one of our fellows during the academic year. Because stipends are paid by the D.C. Department of Employment Services, there is no cost to employers. The principal goals of these internships are to:

  • Provide the fellows with meaningful work experience;
  • Allow fellows to develop the skills and habits needed for success in the workplace; and
  • Develop productive relationships with colleagues and supervisors.

Toward the end of the academic year, many of our Pivot Program fellows will be seeking employment with corporate, small business, nonprofit, and public sector organizations throughout the District and surrounding areas.

If you would like to learn more about employing a Pivot Program fellow or graduate, please contact Alyssa.Lovegrove@georgetown.edu.

Support Our Work

For Georgetown, the Pivot Program presents us with a unique opportunity to live our Jesuit values by embracing returning citizens and welcoming them into our community. We are engaging all parts of the university in this effort – faculty and staff, administration and operations, and students. While we cannot fully eliminate the societal stigma associated with formerly incarcerated individuals, we can build a greater awareness of the issues surrounding criminal justice reform and create a best-practice model for other university-sponsored transition programs.

For the Georgetown Pivot Program to succeed and scale requires a significant commitment of resources and talent, including scholarships and stipends to support our fellows. We welcome institutional, corporate, and philanthropic champions – if you are interested in learning more about how to support our work, please contact joshua.miller@georgetown.edu.

Executive Directors: Marc Morje Howard, Pietra Rivoli

Managing Director: Joshua Miller

Academic Director: Alyssa Lovegrove

Get Involved/Learn More

We are eager to engage with all members of the community who are interested in the issues surrounding returning citizens and criminal justice reform.

To learn more about the Georgetown Pivot Program, please contact Joshua.Miller@georgetown.edu.

If you are a member of the press and are seeking more information on the Georgetown Pivot Program, please contact mediarequests@georgetown.edu.

If you are member of the business and entrepreneurship communities and are interested in coaching, funding, or providing business and technical support services to our Pivot Program graduates and entrepreneurs, please contact alyssa.lovegrove@georgetown.edu.