Mission: Launch is actively working to educate returning citizens about their finances and connect them to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that offer small business loans. They will reopen Launchpad, part business accelerator and part financial literacy program, later this year. This 90-day course helps returning citizens understand personal finance, navigate the reentry process, and develop business plans. “In listening to the CDFIs that make small business loans, they said they would like to be more intentional about providing more small business loans to entrepreneurs with criminal records but identified several barriers. Launchpad is the program that those CDFIs have asked for,” Laurin said. Launchpad helps returning citizens develop a personal financial resiliency plan by, for example, planning how they will pay back child support debt or how they will earn money within the restrictions of their probation terms. The program also helps returning citizens articulate how they will repay business loans.
Even more transformational from Mission: Launch is R3 Score, an alternative background check and credit score. R3 Score takes into account multiple factors in a person’s life to assess loan risk, giving financial institutions a more accurate picture. “R3 Score is an example of something that could be a huge game changer,” said Ron of Capital Impact. Laurin believes that the combination of Launchpad and R3 Score will encourage financial institutions to support returning citizens who want to start their own businesses.