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UVA's Business School Teaches Inmates in Pilot Program - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA's Business School Teaches Inmates in Pilot Program

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A University of Virginia Darden Business School course is capturing the focus and freeing the minds of some unlikely students in Fluvanna County.

The course started with a letter to the Darden dean from a prisoner. In the letter he asked, "What am I supposed to do about getting work when I get out?" That got the ball rolling for a pilot program behind bars.

Now, the Darden School is guiding inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in the direction of business ownership. The 20 prisoners are taking a 30-week class on entrepreneurship taught by Darden professors and MBA students, like Alicia Cushman.

She assigns a small business case study and the students come to class ready to discuss its successes, failures, and what they would do differently.

"I hope they realize they have the skills they need to succeed and I hope they take this opportunity and use it," said Cushman.

To enroll in the class, each woman had to complete a vocational program with a recommendation from their teacher. All will be released by 2015.

"They are seeing they can do rather than being told, ‘You're a loser. You'll never do anything. You'll never amount to anything.' This is a boost in the right direction," said Department of Corrections Regional Principal David Wright.

The school teaches the course to male prisoners in Dillwyn. Darden hopes to expand the program to prisons across the commonwealth and nationwide.

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