Who We Are

Frequent Questions

Why did Defy Nebraska change its name and identity to RISE?


As a newly independent organization, the Defy Nebraska staff, board and core funders unanimously approved the creation of a new identity to continue the important work happening in Nebraska. The changes leading up to this point meant that the organization could no longer operate under the Defy name or continue the affiliation with Defy Ventures. The new organization (RISE) will continue serving people with criminal records, both in prison and in the community.

What does RISE mean?

To “RISE” is the act of seeking elevation, an upward trending movement, a higher vantage point by which to have a wider view. In adopting this name, the intent is to apply the meaning to the organization’s mission, and to lend that to the lives of those the organization serves and advocates for.

Additionally, RISE specifically outlines that transformation is possible through:

Responsibility to self, others, and community

Integrity to consistently make better, more mindful choices, even when others aren’t watching

Strength in knowing one’s worth and gifts, and applying that in daily life

Empowerment through education focused on employment, entrepreneurship and character development

What has changed, and what has remained the same?

RISE will build on the programmatic foundation Defy started in Nebraska.

RISE continues serving in 7 Nebraska prisons without program interruption.

RISE will continue supporting graduates upon release through programming, case management, an entrepreneurship incubator, and transitional housing.

RISE is led by the same experienced, familiar and motivated team responsible for the growth of Defy Nebraska from 2 to 7 prisons over the last two years. RISE now has 10 staff members; 8 full-time and 2 part-time. The organization continues to grow.

RISE is governed by a 9-member board of directors.

RISE has created new curriculum that it will begin using in February of 2019. The curriculum focus will continue to be on character development, job readiness and entrepreneurship. Classes will still run for 6 months. Program graduates will receive a RISE completion certificate and a Certificate in Career Readiness from the University of Nebraska Omaha.

The RISE curriculum will add some new components that will enrich learning. Some of these new additions include: Gallup assessments and training for participants (CliftonStrengths and Builder Profile 10); the Pathways to Freedom curriculum developed by the Prison Mindfulness Institute; and entrepreneurship and business curriculum created by NFTE, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. The curriculum will feature less video content and more classroom teaching and facilitation.

RISE will continue to hold in-prison volunteer coaching events and business pitch competitions.

RISE will continue offering program graduates case management support upon release. Post-release services include a business incubator, reentry planning, job readiness training and transitional housing.