PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #1 from TRAP House

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards annual seed grants to fund the launch or early stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. This year’s winners are Walking Elephants Home, Kindergarten Kickstart, and T.R.A.P. House. Each grantee reports back with blog posts and photos. Here is the first report from the TRAP House team: Bashaun Brown ’18, Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, and Will Barr ’18.


TRAP House team and friends with Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin

TRAP House team and friends with Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin

With the help of the Patricelli Center, TRAP House has exceeded all expectations, including our own.

The Patricelli Center seed grant helped TRAP House leverage an additional $25,000 in funding from the Newman’s Own Foundation and the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation. Impressed by our momentum and the impact that TRAP House is already making in the community, several individuals were inspired to contribute an additional $2,500.  With this funding, TRAP House has launched its pilot program in the North End of Hartford.

On June 4th, TRAP House hosted a Startup Day where residents of Hartford’s North End pitched us their business ideas.  Throughout the day, these entrepreneurs-in-the-making had the opportunity to work with our mentors one-on-one as they conducted market-research, refined their business plans, and wove their moving personal stories into their business pitches.  TRAP House will continue to work with all who participated in the Startup Day competition, to ensure that we remain a far-

Startup Day flyer

Startup Day flyer

reaching resource to the community. We have selected three TRAP Stars from the day’s competitors to receive startup funding and full-time business incubation.

The first, Vodal Crooks, will use his passion for storytelling and filmmaking to start a videography company. He intends to document weddings and birthdays, in addition to shooting music videos for local musicians. The second, Antoine Blue, will use the job-training he received in prison to launch a commercial cleaning company that employs other ex-offenders from the community.  Finally, Gr8 One will leverage his talent for community-organizing to execute small ventures in North Hartford; stop by the cook-off on Wednesday, June 15 to see his skills at work!

In addition to Seed funding, the Patricelli Center has helped us establish a network of mentors and advisors throughout Connecticut and beyond.  This network has been indispensable to TRAP House as we take our first steps.  Key partners include reSET, a social enterprise-incubator in Hartford that

TRAP House CFO Gabe Weinreb '18 and volunteer Michael Smith '18 on Startup Day

TRAP House CFO Gabe Weinreb ’18 and volunteer Michael Smith ’18 on Startup Day

offers us free office space and legal advice; Our Piece of the Pie, a youth development agency that gave us space and equipment to host our Startup Day; and the Rideshare company, a commuter service administrator that donated a van to TRAP House. The TRAP House met with Luke Bronin, the mayor of Hartford, and participated in a roundtable discussion about mass incarceration with Governor Malloy.  This chain of excitement and support was strengthened in the media. Our work was featured in an article by the Hartford Courant, and our CEO Bashaun Brown ‘18 was interviewed by Stan Simpson on Fox 61 News. People are excited to learn about the #newhustle!

TRAP House COO Irvine Peck's-Agaya '18 teaching a workshop to TRAP Stars and affiliates at reSET in Hartford

TRAP House COO Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18 teaching a workshop to TRAP Stars and affiliates at reSET in Hartford

Over the next five weeks, our TRAP Stars will attend an entrepreneurial boot camp every Saturday where they will learn valuable skills in marketing, financial planning, and legal compliance.  We will continue to draw on our network of mentors and the resources at the Patricelli Center to give our entrepreneurs a competitive advantage.  This way, our entrepreneurs will beat the odds and establish lasting ventures that will combat mass incarceration from the supply side and return economic power to the North End and the amazing people that call it home.

Follow our journey on Facebook and Twitter.