Entrepreneurship as a Second Chance

The Entrepreneurship as a Second Chance (ESC) initiative offers formerly incarcerated, or court-involved individuals the opportunity to explore re-entry into society through business ownership. In addition to intensive entrepreneurial training, two years of one-on-one mentoring, and business plan development, ESC will provide participants with the necessary tools for success.

Entrepreneurship as a Second Chance Program Overview

ESC is a pathway to self-sustainability through entrepreneurship. Developed by UCEDC with funding from Impact 100 Garden State, the program enables citizens reentering society to forge an alternate path toward employment free of the typical societal prejudices and obstacles they traditionally face. ESC provides the education, mentoring, and support needed. A well-prepared entrepreneur with a solid business plan has much greater odds for success. The ESC program starts with a 7-week course, which includes classroom training and one-on-one counseling each week. Participants will create a viable business plan and will have two years of additional mentoring while they start their new businesses. ESC will provide the tools each business needs to be successful, including computers, business software, and the potential for start-up financing.


  • Learn whether you have the traits to be a business owner and make your idea work
  • Assess the feasibility of your particular business idea and ensure that it will provide the benefits you want from business ownership
  • Master the steps to opening a business in New Jersey
  • Determine the correct structure for your business
  • Work closely with instructors during class and in off-hours to draft your business plan.
  • Receive one-on-one mentoring for 2 years on successful completion of the class
  • Access potential funding

What you will cover

Self-Assessment – Personal Readiness
Business Assessment – The Idea and Understanding Your Market
Developing the Business Plan:

  • Organization Structure and Financing the Business
  • The Marketing Plan
  • Basic Financial Statements
  • Management and Operations Plan
  • Projecting Financial Results

Who should apply?

Individuals who are court-involved or returning from incarceration, who are seriously interested in business ownership and are able to commit to the class schedule. ESC is a highly competitive program, and those who apply will go through an in-depth screening process before being accepted to the program.

Minimum requirements to qualify:

  • Post-release for at least 1 year (ideally with one year’s tax return if available)
  • Have recurring income from at least one part- or full-time job

For more information and questions, please contact Joe Lamberti, UCEDC Director of Training at jlamberti@ucedc.com or 908-358-3005.

Our next ESC Program starts Wednesday, October 6 – Wednesday, November 17, 2021.  Application submission deadline: Tuesday, September 7, 2021*

*Applications received after September 7th will be considered for the third round of the ESC program to be held in 2022.