Defy Ventures is a nonprofit that uses entrepreneurship and coaching to transform the lives and legacies of people with criminal histories.
Its flagship program, called CEO of Your New Life, facilitates mentorship between Silicon Valley and California’s prisoners by bringing leaders in tech, business, and finance to volunteer inside the prison walls. There, they teach important life and business skills that help the men inside -- referred to by Defy as entrepreneurs-in-training -- rise up above their circumstances and defy the odds that incarceration places against them.
Photographed at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, Calif. for Defy Ventures.
People returning from America’s prisons face enormous odds when trying to put their pasts behind them. A criminal conviction greatly diminishes one's access to affordable housing, employment, education, and public services. This makes it more difficult for people with convictions to reintegrate into society, and in turn, two out of three returned citizens recidivate within three years of their release.
The recidivism rate for Defy graduates is 7.2%.