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Young offenders at 201 Poplar show entrepreneurial skills to Howard University students

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Young offenders at 201 Poplar say they are on a path to change after showing off their entrepreneurial skills to students from Howard University.

Inside the youthful offender unit at 201 Poplar there's dozens of young men, ages 18 to 25. On Thursday, they were businessmen.

One of them is 21-year-old Farough. We can't show you his face or reveal his full name for privacy reasons, but we're showing you his plan. Farough and his team of other offenders showed off their business model they've developed over the last month. "We specialize in water and mold damage. What we will do is we will come and scan the walls in this infrared laser," he said.

Farough's company, Memphis Mold Masters, is far from the only business in the room. There's also a specialized dry cleaning and laundromat company and Crispy Cuts, a barbershop and salon developed with the purpose to give back to the community, as well as other businesses.

"This is why it's called the Program Pod. We're programming them for the future so they can have some kind of structure," counselor Camille Harris said.

Somewhere in their young adult lives these young men made a mistake, but the purpose of this pod is to get them back on the right track and prepare them for life outside of jail.

"We need to give them a chance that they've never had before," counselor Tamela Hilson said.

"It was also a learning experience. We got to teach things to one another and learn things from one another," Farough explained.

On Thursday, they interacted with students from Howard University. The students, who were in town for their alternative spring break, listened to the different business models.

"Being able to give them feedback and telling them, you know, you can do stuff after this is a great experience, honestly," sophomore student Zena Aduwo said. She says the students from the university benefited too. "For a lot of the students, you know, we're not used to being in this environment. A lot of people have never been to jail."

In the end, the blue ribbon was awarded to Farough and his team for Memphis Mold Masters.

He said he hopes to do specialized mold removal when he gets out of jail.

"What you see, what you see on paper we want to put it into existence. Jail is supposed to be a correctional facility and I think as you can see right here this is a correctional facility. We are being corrected from our old ways and we're becoming new people. "

The Howard University students also visited other jails in the Shelby County area.

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