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Making A Difference

Unlocking Potential

Jennifer Porter Anderson (MBA 2013)

Even as a preteen, Jennifer Porter Anderson (MBA 2013) was convinced there could be a better, more compassionate alternative for criminal justice than locking people up in large, violent prisons. What began as a family dinner-table conversation about the concept of recidivism eventually led her to pursue a business education and her own startup, the Reset Foundation, which diverts young men from prison to a setting centered on education rather than incarceration.

“If you boil Reset down to one idea, it is that environment is the most important thing,” Anderson says. “Jails and prisons are dehumanizing, ugly, and dark places. If you tried to imagine the worst place possible to put someone, that’s probably what you would come up with.”

Reset’s first residential program facility in Berkeley, California, opened last year with five participants and a waiting list of 13. All students are young men from low-income backgrounds who have been diverted from the court system, often as part of a plea agreement. Students must live at the locked Reset facility and take lessons in academics, career development, and developing healthy life and social habits. Eventually they move to external business internships as part of a path to full independence, a process that takes one to two years.

(Published October 2017)