Defy Ventures
The West Side · Downtown · Midtown

Defy Ventures provides opportunities for entrepreneurship, leadership, and career development to men and women with criminal histories.

Defy provides carefully selected, ambitious men and women with criminal histories with life-changing entrepreneurship, leadership, and career opportunities. The Defy internship offers 12 months of hands-on, MBA-like training, mentoring, character development, business incubation and financing. Defy’s holistic training and support equips students to thrive as entrepreneurs, parents, and role models in their communities.

Our volunteers with entrepreneurship and business expertise find a unique opportunity to leverage their skills and competencies at Defy by mentoring entrepreneurs with criminal histories toward a new start.
Defy's unique entreprenurial coaching program engages executives across all spheres of business to be mutually transformed by the friendships they make. Many of the HFNY mentors become lifelong advocates for their mentees.
To recruit entrepreneurial participants, our volunteers act as judges, panel experts, and mock customers during events like scavenger hunts and mocktail nights challenging participants to understand running a business in the NYC context.

All volunteers must be business executives, entrepreneurs, investors and other skilled, passionate professionals (e.g., lawyers and accountants) in order to participate. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.

Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EIT) Program:

  • Volunteers coach and mentor the entrepeneurs-in-training throughout four-month program as they refine their business strategies, hone their entrepreneurial skills, launch their businesses and develop long-term professional careers.

Preliminary Participant Competitions:

  • Volunteers judge business plan, product pitch, and various other competitions to help evaluate and give feedback to the potential entrepreneurs-in-training.

Online Mentors:

  • Volunteers sign up to receive 5 resumes and leadership statements to edit and give feedback on within a 6-day time frame. 45-minute tutorial is required before materials will be sent.

See below to sign up for these opportunities.
“The day I realized that the relationship between Defy Ventures and Hope for New York was an amazing one was when I realized the relationship of Russell and Glen, one of the volunteers from HFNY. He took Russell to his church, brought him to his family dinner. Russell comes from somewhere where it’s dark and hard, and then in turn having someone like Glen who’s really supporting him and pushing him and being his friend, helping him become successful, helping him become that great father, son, that we all dream of becoming.”
Jose, Staff
What we learned from Tim Keller & Bryan Stevenson last week
May 24, 2016
Last week, in an event co-sponsored by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Center for Faith and Work, and Hope for New York, Tim Keller & Bryan Stevenson spoke about race, reconciliation, mass incarceration, systemic injustice, and the church. The discussion was equal parts heartbreaking, challenging, and inspiring, and we've shared some of our key takeaways here.
4 ways to pray for our neighbors who are or have been incarcerated
June 08, 2016
This week, in conjunction with our “Hope after Prison” workshop, we hope you will join us as we pray for our justice system and for those currently or formerly incarcerated.
Takeaways from our Hope After Prison Workshop
June 22, 2016
During our “Hope After Prison” workshop on June 8, we heard from four creative and inspiring New York City leaders about their work to empower men and women who have been incarcerated. We were challenged to re-think how we engage with men and women who are returning home from prison, who face very real challenges and barriers to re-entry even after they have served their time.
Prayers for the Formerly Incarcerated
May 04, 2017
The U.S. comprises five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its prisoners. Upon returning home, formerly incarcerated people often struggle with substance abuse, lack of education and employment skills, limited housing options, and mental health issues. Let's pray for these neighbors of ours.