Entrepreneurial Readiness for Returning Citizens

In 2019, AEO launched the Endeavor Ready initiative to identify solutions needed to successfully prepare returning citizens for entrepreneurship. Backed by Capital One, Endeavor Ready discovered that early credit-building, right-fit capital, and trauma-informed care are vital to increasing a returning citizen’s chances of building a thriving business. 

Moving Forward: Endeavor Ready 2.0

Endeavor Ready 2.0 builds on this foundation by piloting R3 Score, an underwriting tool specifically designed to meet the lending needs of returning citizens. Through partnership with BCLending, UrbanUpbound, and DreamSpring, AEO seeks to:

1. Expand the cohort of organizations that can test the R3 Score tool as a way to derisking and underrating loans for returning citizen entrepreneurs 

2. Work with (mission based) lenders to demystify and destigmatize returning citizen entrepreneurs to transform their economic livelihoods.

3. Gain increased alignment among our members for serving a greater share of returning citizen entrepreneurs.

Meet Our Partners

Baltimore Community Lending 

BCL provides loan capital to small real estate developers and small business owners in Baltimore City who have no relationship with or are unable to get a loan from a bank, and who are committed to developing underserved neighborhoods.




DreamSpring is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and business owners generate income, build assets, create jobs and achieve financial success through business ownership. The organization offers business loans, along with training, networking and other support services to those who own or want to start a business.

Urban Upbound

Urban Upbound provides New York public housing residents with the tools and resources needed to break the cycle of poverty  and achieve economic mobility and self-sufficiency.


About R3 Score

R3 Score is a financial analysis tool that uses a sophisticated algorithm for background checks to allow individuals with criminal histories to be seen for who they are today. 

R3 Score partners with investors, policymakers, and tech innovators to change the imbalance that unfairly locks those with criminal pasts out of economic opportunities. 

Endeavor Ready Publications

Returning Citizen Entrepreneurship: Enhancing Support, Increasing Opportunities, and Deepening Success

Entrepreneurship can effectively address the underlying causes of the high recidivism rate, while also providing a promising career and life path. However, the difference between success and failure for these fledgling entrepreneurs may lie in three key strategies: early credit development, right-fit capital, and trauma-informed care. When training programs add these strategies into their curriculum, they can deliver even greater success and impact for participants. This paper also shares experiences of how people are realizing their dreams of long-term career and life success, and how new programs are enabling them to do so.

Advancing Entrepreneurial Readiness Training for Returning Citizens

This toolkit provides easy-to-use resources for practitioners offering post-release entrepreneurial training to returning citizens (individuals who were formerly incarcerated). The opportunities highlighted are intended for program managers, funders, and policy makers seeking to learn more effective training approaches or for potential partners looking to improve support to returning citizen entrepreneurs.