- Is RISE a nonprofit organization?
Yes! RISE is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
- Is RISE only a Nebraska organization?
At this time, RISE only offers in-prison programming within seven facilities in the state of Nebraska.
- How long has RISE been in operation?
Programming originally began in the Nebraska prison system in 2016 under a different national organization. In 2018, the local leadership team broke away from the national organization and filed for their own 501c3 with permission to continue an affiliate relationship with a licensing agreement under the name Defy Nebraska. In February of 2019, with the expiration of the Defy Ventures licensing agreement and affiliation, the Nebraska leadership team officially launched a new independent organization, RISE.
- I see the term Builder used a lot on your website and social media. What is a Builder?
At RISE we call our program participants, Builders. We firmly believe in using humanizing language. We do not work with inmates, ex-cons, criminals, prisoners, etc. We work with people building strong futures.
- I’m formerly incarcerated. Can I take RISE’s program outside of prison?
At this time, no. But we are exploring this option for the future. You can, however, take the RISE Business Academy if you're interested in entrepreneurship!
If you began RISE programming while incarcerated inside one of the seven Nebraska state facilities we serve in, but did not complete, please contact the RISE in prison Program Manager.
- What personal qualifications do you need to volunteer with RISE in prison?
Volunteering with RISE is an opportunity for everyone (ages 19+). While RISE programming does have a heavy focus on entrepreneurship, that does not mean you must be an entrepreneur, CEO, or business owner to volunteer! If you have ever filled out a resume, been in the workforce, were previously incarcerated, have been a consumer, or are simply open to building empathy...you’ll be a great fit. As one of our Builders says, “If you care, you’re qualified”.
To enter the Nebraska Department of Correctional facilities with RISE as a volunteer, you will be required to submit two forms: a Department of Corrections Clearance Form and a RISE Volunteer Waiver. These forms will be sent to you upon registration for your upcoming event and must be submitted back to RISE six weeks prior to your entrance into facilities. These forms are easy to fill out and all your questions will be answered by the RISE Volunteer Relations Manager.
- Why should I volunteer in prison?
Volunteering in prison can truly be a rewarding experience for both you and RISE Builders. “Showing up” for people is incredibly impactful, humanizing, selfless and empowering. One past study even shows interactions with volunteers and mentors can make a positive impact on recidivism rates.
Not only do your time and talents mean so much to RISE Builders, you offer unique insights to help propel Builder ideas forward. As members of the workforce in any capacity, in addition to being consumers of products and services, you have valuable understanding of the market and economy.
On a personal level, volunteering is good for your health, can boost your own resume and career, you’ll make real connections, and gain new perspectives. All viable reasons to begin volunteering with RISE!
Don’t know what to expect when volunteering with RISE? Check out this short video!
- Do I need to live in Nebraska in order to volunteer?
No! We welcome and encourage volunteers from all over the world! In fact, we’ve had volunteers from 26 states and even the UK! If you can get here, we’d love to have you! We even have online volunteering opportunities that are self-paced and can be done from your home!
- Can I bring a group in to volunteer?
Absolutely! The more the merrier! Bring a friend or five, your entire department at work, college football team, church circle, networking group...come one come all.
- I am formerly incarcerated. Can I volunteer with RISE?
Yes! And please do! The Nebraska Department of Corrections (not RISE) has volunteering regulations depending on your parole status and how long you have been off of parole, but we will work together through the volunteer registration process! Lived experience is incredibly insightful for RISE Builders in their reentry planning.
- What are some of the most common reentry barriers RISE Builders face?
The barriers to reentry are substantial. Everything from insufficient employment opportunities, mental health and the disease of addiction, repairing relationships, to lack of housing options; the inability to vote, culture shock and most importantly, the stigma of having a criminal record.
When observing the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory, we understand when a person's basic needs are met (food, shelter, security and safety) they can begin to start achieving their greatest potential in life.
By empowering RISE Builders through the reentry process and assuring basic needs are met, they can continue on in their community to achieve meaningful and fulfilling lives.
- Who hires RISE Graduates?
There are several industries and companies within the state of Nebraska that hire RISE graduates! If you are from a small business or part of a larger organization, we’d love for you to consider hiring RISE Graduates! You just might find your next Employee of the Month within this hardworking and overlooked talent pool! You can inquire about hiring RISE Grads here!
RISE Graduates may be eligible for a federal tax credit known as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). More information about WOTC can be accessed from the Nebraska Department of Labor or can be found here. Graduates may also be eligible for a free 6 month bond; contact the Nebraska Department of Labor at DOL.FidelityBonds@nebraska.gov for more information.
- What can I do to help people reentering the community after incarceration?
Understand the barriers to reentry; housing, employment, parole fees, reunification of families, culture shock, mental health and the disease of addiction, stigma of a criminal record.
Be a supporter. It doesn’t only take the work of the person reentering, it takes the community welcoming them home. You can take an easy step in reentry support with providing a meal to a RISE Builder coming home.
Hire and provide housing opportunities to RISE graduates and the formerly incarcerated. If you or someone you know has access to these resources within the Nebraska community, let’s connect!
Invest financially in the mission of RISE. Financial support helps RISE programming operate inside state facilities, empowers Builders in their reentry process, and directly supports people in our community when and how they need it most.
We want to hear from you!