Meeting in Review - September 29, 2021

Thursday, September 30, 2021 By: Whitney Ashe Doll
The Rotary Club of Washington, D.C. welcomed guest speaker Marcus Bullock, CEO, Flikshop.

The Zoom meeting was opened at 12:15 PM for member fellowship.

President Bill Dent and Secretary Whitney Doll welcomed participants, guests, and visiting Rotarians.

Sergeant-at-Arms Sterling Hoffman presented the Four-Way Test and weekly inspiration. He recognized birthdays and anniversaries for the week.

Marcos Soriano presented a Member Moment.

Announcements:
  • Recent events: Thanks to Jill Kent / Rotaract induction (Bill Dent)
  • University Club: Plans to return (Bill Dent)
  • Oktoberfest announcement (Marilyn Cruz)
  • Upcoming social events (Mary Goldsmith)
  • Malaria Partners International (Maria Nelly Pavisich)
  • Disaster Relief Working Group (Maria Nelly Pavisich)
  • ISC Oct. 15th Deadline reminder (May O’Brien)
Musa Kamara introduced this week's guest speaker, Marcus Bullock, CEO, Flikshop.

At the age of 15, Marcus Bullock was sentenced to eight years in adult maximum-security prison—for stealing a car.  Now released, he’s turned his entrepreneurial vision into Flikshop, an ingeniously simple app that allows family members to connect with prisoners who are otherwise isolated, via short messages and photos.

Instead of giving in to a prison system that perpetuates oppression, hopelessness, and isolation, Marcus Bullock served his time and got out, determined to make a difference.  While in jail, his mother had sent him a letter every day, a simple connection to the outside world that really was his lifeline—and with his creation of Flikshop, Inc., Bullock has given that lifeline to hundreds of thousands of others.  Now, more than 140,000 prisoners use Flikshop to stay in touch with loved ones—and get assistance from nonprofits.  People on the outside snap a photo, include a note, and Flikshop sends a physical copy to the inmate for roughly the cost of a stamp. (Prisoners can only receive physical mail.)  Flikshop is more than a vessel for one-on-one connection, though that part is vital.  It’s also used more broadly for education, for helping prisoners get ahead of the barriers they often face once released.  With Bullock’s company, prisoners get assistance with housing applications, learn financial literacy, and develop important job interview skills.  Going hand-in-hand with the app is the Flikshop School of Business, a program Bullock founded that teaches returning citizens entrepreneurship through coding and software development.

A hit in the tech community, Bullock’s app was chosen by Tech Stars as one of only ten projects out of 10,000 to receive massive funding.  He has also been named one of John Legend’s Unlocked Futures business accelerators, and is a member of the Justice Policy Institute’s board of directors.  In 2019, he was named one of The Root 100.  Bullock also serves as an advisor to the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, and his inspirational story has been covered by Forbes, CNN, Washington Post, Black Enterprise, and NPR.

President Bill adjourned the meeting at 1:30 p.m.