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Press Release: Returning Hope to Prisons
July 14, 2016
For Immediate Release
Mobile app CEO and award-winning author go back into jails, 10 years after their release from prison as co-defendants and after winning prestigious Booz Allen Hamilton Aspen Ideas Award
Marcus Bullock, CEO of Flikshop and Flikshop School of Business, and Dwayne Betts, award winning author of ‘Bastards of the Reagan Era’ have just won the prestigious Booz Allen Hamilton Ideas Award at the renowned Aspen Ideas Festival. Their project entitled ‘Returning Hope to Prisons’ involving Bullock’s company Flikshop and their simple idea to barnstorm prisons to tell their personal success stories (in a similar manner to what occurs in universities) netted them the award as well as twenty-five thousand dollars to help fund their project.
Their story as successful contributing members of the community is far from conventional considering that some years previously, as teenage friends, they were convicted and incarcerated for their serious crime of carjacking. They both served nearly a decade in prison and not once did someone approach them with a narrative of possible post incarceration success. However despite being given no role models they resisted the common track of recidivating and spent their prison time educating themselves as best they could. Upon release the men remained friends but Bullock followed a path of entrepreneurship while Betts became a scholar, recently graduating with a law degree from Yale.
Bullock created Flikshop, a free application for smartphones that enables users to take photos, write messages and send them off in the form of a 99-cent postcard to friends and family members in over 2,000 registered correctional and juvenile justice facilities across the United States. In today's digital world with instant communication people aren't so much accustomed to sending handwritten letters and printed photos from home the way they used to so Flikshop provides much needed support from family and friends to the men and women in prison.
In parallel to the phone app, Bullock’s Flikshop School of Business has built a coalition of distinguished formerly incarcerated people that hosts talks and workshops surrounding entrepreneurship, writing, and project-based goal setting. They visit prison facilities around the country to encourage the guys housed there using the “3 E’s” – Educate, Expose and Expand.
To ‘Educate’ they host workshops that focus on reentry preparation, answering relevant questions concerning housing and employment and also distribute a copy of Betts’ latest book, Bastards of a Reagan Era. To ‘Expose’ they tell a story that those in prison can relate to and may want to emulate. They ‘Expand’ and facilitate relationships for family members by donating Flikshop Credits to the families in their workshops.
Recognizing the limited budgets of state institutions across the country they have reduced their speaking and workshop fees in an effort to reach more people. Bullock and Dwayne are also looking to raise further funds to help fund the worthwhile project. Generosity makes it easy to accept online donations if you would like to support the initiative: Flikshop Fundraiser.
Their impact has already been tremendous where they have already visited, given inspirational talks and hosted workshops at several facilities. They anticipate being able to connect over 400,000 families with the Flikshop app in 2016 and to visit 20 facilities within 12 months.