Eradicate Recidivism Project | National Black Business Month Interview Series

August is National Black Business Month. To celebrate TheBlack.Blog will be releasing a month-long interview series featuring black businesses across the country. New interviews will premiere every Monday at 5pm CST. Plus, series bonus interviews premiere on Fridays.

For Interview 5 of the National Black Business Month: Interview Series presented by TheBlack.Blog, we spoke with Eddie Ash. Eddie Ash is a Chicago native with a passion for activism and fighting recidivism. Eddie is the founder of Eradicate Recidivism Project, an organization that provides information, support, and advocacy against recidivism. He is also the founder of ERP, a home restoration and property preservation company. 

In this interview we will discuss Eddie’s business and his overall entrepreneurship journey.


TheBlack.Blog:

Hello and welcome to the National Black Business Month: Interview Series presented by TheBlack.Blog. We are here with Eddie Ash, he’ll be telling us a little bit more about his business and his overall entrepreneurship journey. So, Eddie, start with telling us a little bit about yourself for people who do not know you.

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

I am Eddie Ash. I was born and raised on the west side of Chicago. I am the father of a beautiful 12-year-old girl. Just trying to be a better man for my community and my family. That’s it.

TheBlack.Blog:

Great answer. So tell us, was there one pivotal moment that jump started your entrepreneurship journey?

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

Not a pivotal moment, but I always had a desire. I had a desire with a lack of knowledge. I had a lot of ideas, but didn’t know where to start to manifest those ideas. Then I finally got the courage to seek out the information that I needed to get started and I surrounded myself with some good people. I was fortunate enough to be in tune with some people that just led me down the path to where I’m at now, getting started and growing.

TheBlack.Blog

So let’s shift into Eradicate Recidivism Project. For those who aren’t familiar, what is Eradicate Recidivism Project?

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

Well, Eradicate Recidivism Project is actually two businesses. ERP is derived from Eradicate Recidivism Project. Eradicate Recidivism Project is a nonprofit organization that’s geared towards bringing information and resources to restore people that are just getting out of prison or been out of prison.

Eradicate Recidivism Project focuses on not just entrepreneurship, trying to get a job, and the other things that I experienced when I got out of prison, going to these different nonprofit organizations. Eradicate Recidivism Project focuses on the emotional and psychological side that prevents us from being productive citizens after being incarcerated in such a negative environment.

ERP is the profit part that I use to help fund the nonprofit Eradicate Recidivism Project. ERP is a home restoration and property preservation company that I started. I do jobs and take the money to build and invest into Eradicate Recidivism Project.

TheBlack.Blog:

So you briefly mentioned your experience of reintegrating into society. If you’re comfortable, tell us what your journey was like returning home.

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

It was difficult for me because I went to prison at 21 and got out when I was 32. So coming home and just trying to find my way in this world and figure out exactly what it is that I wanted do was difficult. I had an idea, but once again, I didn’t have the proper influences or resources to get to where I wanted to go. When you come out and go to these different organizations that claim to help ex-offenders, they do teach interview skills and how to prepare a resume. They also offer some help when it comes to jobs, depending on the degree of the crime you committed. However the one missing element was addressing the anxiety and depression that ex-offenders suffer from that’s usually undiagnosed and untreated from the time they hit the prisons until the time they get out. That contributes to the recidivism. Their attitude towards themselves, their attitude towards their place in society and not having the emotional and psychological ability to function in a work environment has to be addressed. So that’s what I want to do because I had those issues and I’ve seen a lot of other people that had them too. They just didn’t understand what was going on with them emotionally and psychologically, because it never had been addressed. So when I got out and I realized what was happening with anxiety and depression, I felt that it needed to be addressed. Then at least I can draw a person’s attention so that they can begin to work on it.

TheBlack.Blog:

That was a very deep point that you made. So what does Eradicate Recidivism Project plan to do to address it? 

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

With a conversation. Just with a conversation. Because the conversation about anxiety and depression for us ex-offenders is not even mentioned. It’s not addressed. You have people that have been in prison taking psych medication and when they’re released, they don’t get the medication anymore. So how can you expect them to be a productive member of society when their emotional and psychological issues have not been addressed or corrected? So with just a conversation, you give a person the opportunity to address their anxiety and depression, so that they can start to get themselves in a position to be a functioning, responsible adult out here.

TheBlack.Blog:

So tell us about the name, Eradicate Recidivism Project. Break it down for people who just don’t know what the words mean. 

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

Well the main part of the title is recidivism. Recidivism is when people return home and go back to prison multiple times. We want to eradicate that. We want to stop people from going back and forth to prison. Most importantly, we want to stop the cycle before it even starts. We want to deal with the issues that cause the cycle to start. So we want to eradicate recidivism. We want to take away that constant revolving door to the penitentiary that’s plaguing our communities and plaguing our families.

TheBlack.Blog:

You mentioned causes that lead to recidivism. What does Eradicate Recidivism Project see as some “revolving doors” to recidivism? 

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

There’s so many. It’s a conglomerate of them. The first thing is economically, we are at a disadvantage and without economics we have no hope. People out here are hopeless. They don’t see themselves being a successful entrepreneur because that’s not promoted to them. They don’t see themselves having a career in construction or even in law as attorneys or stuff like that because that’s not what’s promoted. So we have to change the vision of ourselves. We have to create economic opportunities that help us be legitimate, law-abiding, successful citizens.

So we have to get over that hurdle, the economic hurdle, but at the same time we have to deal with the emotional trauma that our communities have been through. The anxiety and depression from being in the financial situation that we are in. So those are the main two things, our emotional state and our economic state.

TheBlack.Blog:

So you talked about a few causes that need to be addressed and reformed. What has Eradicate Recidivism Project done or what are some events or initiatives that you have coming up in the future to address these causes?

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

One of the things that I want to do with Eradicate Recidivism Project is to create positive images of Black people because we have an abundance of negative media and campaigns against us. The music, the movies, the television, all depict such a negative picture of our people, so I think we need to combat it with some more positive images. We need billboards and posters projecting Black people in a more positive light to combat all the negative images that we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. That’s definitely something we hope to do in the future. Let’s start showing our people in a positive light. Let’s promote us in the positive light, being entrepreneurs and law-abiding citizens. Let’s start promoting that side of Blackness. Let’s put money and effort into that.

TheBlack.Blog:

Love that. Let’s continue thinking into the future. If you can think on a grand level, where do you see Eradicate Recidivism Project in five years?

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

I see Eradicate Recidivism Project being just what I said, a positive influence on our people, not just in Chicago, but in every urban city and community. I see us being a beacon of positivity where people can look at themselves and say, “I could be that. That’s me. That’s who I am.” I want us to portray a different image other than what we see on the news every day about us. Eradicate Recidivism Project wants to be at the forefront of positive imagery for our people. 

TheBlack.Blog:

So we’re almost at the end of the interview, but before we go I have some breaking news for you. All 5 businesses in the Interview Series have been automatically nominated for the Black Business Scholarship presented by TheBlack.Blog. In case you’re not familiar with the scholarship, here’s a brief summary. TheBlack.Blog presents a quarterly scholarship to businesses who we feel are making an impact. Scholars are selected via a nomination system allowing people to nominate businesses who they feel are impactful. 

So congratulations, Eradicate Recidivism Project is officially in the running for the scholarship. With that being said, if Eradicate Recidivism Project were to be awarded the scholarship, how would it be used to impact your business? 

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

That’s what’s up. Well, I need media support. I need ads and marketing  to get it out there. I really just need to get Eradicate Recidivism Project out there to get people more involved and more aware of it. So that’s whatever I can use towards that, that’s what it’ll be.

TheBlack.Blog:

Well Eradicate Recidivism Project, we’ve come to the end of the interview. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and participating in the National Black Business Month: Interview Series presented by TheBlack.Blog.

Eradicate Recidivism Project: 

No, thank you. Thank you.

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Celebrate National Black Business Month with us!

New interviews premiere every Monday at 5pm CST. Series bonus interviews premiere on Fridays.

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