New program in Indy helps people start businesses

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INDIANAPOLIS — There’s a new resource for people to start their own businesses. Launch Hope Foundation teaches the entrepreneurship skills needed to people who didn’t think it would be possible for them. 

On top of learning the skills, they also have a business accelerator program to help bring idea concepts to market. 

Women and men from all walks of life can sign up, they have centers in local schools and jails. 

“After my third DUI conviction, I was sentenced to 94 days in Hamilton County Jail,” said Kaitlin Van Der Pool. 

While serving time, Van Der Pool found the Launch Hope Foundation program. 

“I was worried about what I was gonna do when I was gonna get out. I lost my apartment, lost my job, and really felt helpless.” 

Now, she sells handmade pet and baby apparel , and she says she has the program to thank. 

“I wouldn’t be as focused-driven, as passionate, so it’s changed my life in an unexplainable way for sure,” said Van Der Pool. 

At the moment the program is in Hamilton County Jail for women and working to get into the men’s side. They will start at Marion County jail in a few months. 

“I just feel that the power of entrepreneurship is such a transformative vehicle, but it can be difficult to start your own business,” said Launch Hope Foundation CEO, Kristi Mitchell. 

They also have a center at the Community Action of Greater Indianapolis, and they teach parents of scholars of the Phalen Leadership Academy. 

“Whether it’s coming out of incarceration or addiction issues, poverty or just women who need a chance. So we use the power of entrepreneurship as that transformative vehicle,” said Mitchell. 

“We are shooting for these women to not only be sustainable, but really prosperous.” 

Syreatha Jackson got involved at the Phalen Leadership Academy, where her son attends. 

She’s working on opening a residential community for adults with special needs. 

“It’s been wonderful. It’s been educational. I’ve learned a lot about myself,” said Jackson. 

The program also has a group of interns who help form a support team around the participants. 

“They care about me in a way I didn’t expect them to. They’re really invested in me as a person and really invested in my business, and genuinely want to see me succeed,” said Van Der Pool. 

While they get college credit for their work, it’s the life experience and connections they value most. 

“It’s incredible to be a part of an experience that’s truly making a difference in people’s lives,” said intern Ella Kappler. 

Another intern, Emily Mead, agrees. 

“One thing that I love to see is just the progress that we’ve made from an idea to now having multiple business accelerator centers and different locations,” said Mead. 

Right now, the program has three satellite centers, and they have plans to start three more. Mitchell also says they want to open a full stand-alone center in the future. 

If you’re interested in joining, you can find a link to apply here

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