If you know Flikshop, you know we are committed to fostering transformation and hope within the walls of our nation’s prisons. Our Flikshop School of Business (FSB) team gets exhilarated when we have the chance to instill this hope through the form of education. Sharing information on entrepreneurship or how to access tech careers to men and women who are eager to discover pathways for their individual futures is a privilege we never take lightly.
Our most recent collaboration with a local government agency (Arlington County, Virginia) came through Aubrey Graham at the Arlington Detention Center.
Graham’s Mission: Expose incarcerated residents to stories of possibility and reinvention after their release, through the lens of those who have found success in their own reentry.
Flikshop’s Mission, after Graham’s Call : Inspire the gentlemen in Arlington County Detention Center and with access to a workshop about creating a personal brand, similar to the original pitch from Flikshop CEO, Marcus Bullock, at Aspen Ideas Festival years ago.
In the substance use treatment unit, our instructors interacted with residents offering a class that introduced future FSB scholars to the strategies that Marcus leveraged to build his professional brand as an impact CEO and motivational speaker. This workshop gave the incarcerated scholars the opportunity to learn, grow, and reshape their personal narratives.
“When I sat in Fairfax County Detention Center I wanted to believe that I still had value, but more importantly I wanted to ensure that there was a community that would not ostracize me because of my mistakes.”, said Bullock as they began their first session with the residents.
“The guys were ecstatic. I’m still getting rave reviews,” Aubrey said.
Our team also ventured into the heart of the correctional facility, addressing men in the maximum-security unit, a group often overlooked when it comes to accessing educational opportunities. The men we spoke to, even in the most challenging of circumstances, exhibited a genuine interest in rebuilding their lives. Their hunger for knowledge, their desire to create better futures for themselves and their communities, was palpable.
“I really think the men learned more about themselves and how to brand themselves as individuals in the community and not just be known as an inmate or a number.” Aubrey expanded further, “And that is invaluable.”
This experience illuminated the crucial
need for correctional facilities to embrace instructors with lived experience. It's a striking reality that individuals who have experienced
incarceration, who have faced the consequences of their actions and the biases of society, are often barred from sharing their wisdom and knowledge within correctional facilities.
However, it's precisely this lived experience that makes us, the ones who have navigated the intricate journey of reentry, the most suitable instructors for such programs. We understand the stigma, the challenges, and the dreams that lie within each person behind bars. Our presence signals a message of hope—that transformation is not only possible but attainable.
What we witnessed during our visit filled us with an overwhelming sense of purpose. The gratitude expressed from the scholars and corrections and support staff was truly humbling. As we reflect on our time at the Arlington Detention Center, it reinforced the belief that every individual deserves a chance to evolve, regardless of their past.
Our team has seen firsthand the impact of empowerment, and we invite correctional facilities across the nation to open their doors to instructors with criminal background histories. Together, we can kindle the flames of transformation and hope within the hearts of those who yearn for a second chance.