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Non-profit helps give those in prison a second chance through education

“When I was inside, the biggest thing that I learned was there was a chasm of education,” said Accomplished Ventures founder Travis Richey.

BOISE, Idaho — A second chance can make all the difference in some people's lives. Travis Richey is all too familiar with that notion.

“I went to prison,” Richey said. “I spent 15 months. 2007 was where my charge stemmed from.” 

He went to prison for transactions of an unregistered securities dealer or salesman.

“Simply put, I didn't pay taxes to the state of Arizona in the right place at the right time,” Richey said. 

It was that experience that sparked the creation of non-profit, Accomplished Ventures, an organization that brings in-person curriculum to those incarcerated. 

“When I was inside, the biggest thing that I learned was there was a chasm of education,” Richey said. “You don't know what you don't know, I first started talking about FICO score in the prison yard… and I'd have people say, ‘oh, yeah, I know that guy,’ true story.” 

RELATED: ‘We’re not our crimes’:IDOC reentry programs helping to end stigma surrounding residents

Fast forward to now and Richey, along with his staff, go into prisons across the country every week on a volunteer status and teach.

“We have 42 different courses at this point, communication, financial literacy, business 101 and all sorts of emotional resilience courses as well and so those courses will be 40-week courses taught in person, and some of them are also delivered electronically,” Richey said.

He goes on to say, his goal is to change the narrative and the stigma often associated when you hear someone is incarcerated. He adds, 65% of people released from prison return within three years and he'd like to break that cycle.

“If you had seven Delta Airlines fall out of the sky every day, every week, for the next year, you would look at maybe there's a problem here, but with the prison industry, it's something that's normalized and so we don't communicate about it,” Richey said. “If I can say, 'hey, look, you've got three years left, we're going to get your credit report, we're going to make sure you walk out of here with a 680 or 700 score, so you can go down and get a vehicle so you can get gainful employment so you can build and establish credit' those things really give these people a leg up.”

In August, a carnival is scheduled at the South Idaho Correctional Institution in Kuna. Another opportunity Richey said will help deliver hope to those incarcerated. 

“It's going to be a family reunification event where all the families of the currently incarcerated will be able to come out for a full day with carnival games and prizes, some food, you know, a photo booth so they can have some memories,” Richey said. “Hopefully, that's the impetus for change to that person who's incarcerated.”

Earlier this month, Accomplished Ventures held a convicted conference at 10 Mile Christian Church in Meridian. It was an opportunity for families of the currently incarcerated to get together and understand what resources were available.

As for that carnival in August, a spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Corrections told KTVB, they are planning the event to help reunite soon-to-be released residents with their family, but it is tentative because of COVID-19 in Ada County.

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