Over the course of the afternoon, Ms. Jarrett heard from participants such as Enrico, who described whole industries where he had explored employment, but despite his extensive work experience and Bachelor’s degree, his conviction has made it tough to gain traction. She also talked with Deaquan, 19 years old and only 13 days out of prison, about navigating the job market with limited experience or credentials. Parole Officer Sam Salters shared that he has made nearly 500 referrals to CEO to help high-risk men and women begin their journey back to the workforce, and that the process of getting prepared for a job is the same shift in mindset needed to turn lives around.
Despite the clear challenges facing men and women returning from prison, Ms. Jarrett left us with several reasons to be hopeful. The business community, she believed, will increasingly see employment service organizations like CEO as key partners in meeting their workforce needs. Government agencies — local, state, and federal — are beginning to fully embrace opportunities to invest in and grow evidence-based work that prevents recidivism and stimulates the economy. And a fairer, more equitable justice system is something that the entire country — including Congress — is rallying around.
We were honored to host Ms. Jarrett and look forward to opportunities to work with leaders across the country to continue supporting people returning home to successfully reenter the job market and reengage in their communities.
All the best,
CEO, Center for Employment Opportunities
Yesterday, I had the honor of participating in President Obama’s announcementat Rutgers University, Newark on the administration’s prisoner reentry agenda. Before the event, I had an opportunity to meet President Obama.
Here is what I said to him: thank you. I thanked him because the success of CEO’s scaling in the last several years was catalyzed by some of his administration’s signature policies. CEO used ARRA (aka “stimulus fund”) to meet the needs of thousands of people returning to Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, New York. The Social Innovation Fund propelled our growth into Oklahoma and California; and Pay for Success is helping us build a deeper evidence base at our New York City flagship.
I told the President that CEO had taken these investments and built sustainable operations in 11 cities across four states. And I reaffirmed to him that CEO is committed to more than doubling our impact by doubling the number of people we will serve over the next five years.
The President’s remarks yesterday gave even more reason for optimism that we can break the cycle of incarceration and poverty. He talked about how criminal justice statistics can be frustrating and make you feel like you need to act. He talked about how unique the bi-partisan consensus is on this issue. And when the President announced new federal resources, he acknowledged that we need to make deeper investments to support the 600,000 men and women coming home each year.
CEO is committed to being part of the reentry solution for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who come home from prison every year. The White House issued a “Fact Sheet” yesterday, recognizing CEO’s commitment to continue to scale our work. All of this country’s momentum on criminal justice reform must be met with comprehensive supports when people come home from prison. Let all of us who are working to see changes made to our justice system remember what’s at stake during the sensitive moments of reentry and resolve that everyone returning from prison will have a bridge home.
CEO, Center for Employment Opportunities
Speech starts at minute 19:20
FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Actions to Promote Rehabilitation and Reintegration for the Formerly- Incarcerated
FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Actions to Promote Rehabilitation and Reintegration for the Formerly- Incarcerated
This Administration has consistently taken steps to make our criminal justice system fairer and more effective and to address the vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. Today, in Newark, New Jersey, President Obama will continue to promote these goals by highlighting the reentry process of formerly-incarcerated individuals and announce new actions aimed at helping Americans who’ve paid their debt to society rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities.
Each year, more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Advancing policies and programs that enable these men and women to put their lives back on track and earn their second chance promotes not only justice and fairness, but also public safety. That is why this Administration has taken a series of concrete actions to reduce the challenges and barriers that the formerly incarcerated confront, including through the work of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, a cabinet-level working group to support the federal government’s efforts to promote public safety and economic opportunity through purposeful cross-agency coordination and collaboration.
The President has also called on Congress to pass meaningful criminal justice reform, including reforms that reduce recidivism for those who have been in prison and are reentering society. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, which recently received a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, would be an important step forward in this effort, by providing new incentives and opportunities for those incarcerated to participate in the type of evidence-based treatment and training and other programs proven to reduce recidivism, promote successful reentry, and help eliminate barriers to economic opportunity following release. By reducing overlong sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, the bill would also free up additional resources for investments in other public safety initiatives, including reentry services, programs for mental illness and addiction, and state and local law enforcement.
Today, the President is pleased to announce the following measures to help promote rehabilitation and reintegration:
- Adult Reentry Education Grants. The Department of Education will award up to $8 million (over 3 years) to 9 communities for the purpose of supporting educational attainment and reentry success for individuals who have been incarcerated. This grant program seeks to build evidence on effective reentry education programs and demonstrate that high-quality, appropriately designed, integrated, and well-implemented educational and related services in institutional and community settings are critical in supporting educational attainment and reentry success.
- Arrests Guidance for Public and other HUD-Assisted Housing.The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will release guidance today to Public Housing Authorities and owners of HUD-assisted housing regarding the use of arrests in determining who can live in HUD-assisted properties. This Guidance will also clarify the Department’s position on “one strike” policies and will include best practices from Public Housing Authorities.
- Banning the Box in Federal Employment. The President has called on Congress to follow a growing number of states, cities, and private companies that have decided to “ban the box” on job applications. We are encouraged that Congress is considering bipartisan legislation that would “ban the box” for federal hiring and hiring by federal contractors. In the meantime, the President is directing the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to take action where it can by modifying its rules to delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process. While most agencies already have taken this step, this action will better ensure that applicants from all segments of society, including those with prior criminal histories, receive a fair opportunity to compete for Federal employment.
- TechHire: Expanding tech training and jobs for individuals with criminal records. As a part of President Obama’s TechHire initiative, over 30 communities are taking action – working with each other and national employers – to expand access to tech jobs for more Americans with fast track training like coding boot camps and new recruitment and placement strategies. Today we are announcing the following new commitments:
- Memphis, TN and New Orleans, LA are expanding TechHire programs to support people with criminal records.
- Newark, NJ, working with the New Jersey Institute of Technology and employers like Audible and Prudential, will offer training through the Art of Code program in software development with a focus on training and placement for formerly incarcerated people.
- New Haven, CT, Justice Education Center, New Haven Works, and others will launch a pilot program to train and place individuals with criminal records, and will start a program to train incarcerated people in tech programming skills.
- Washington, DC partners will train and place 200 formerly incarcerated people in tech jobs. They will engage IT companies to develop and/or review modifications to hiring processes that can be made for individuals with a criminal record.
- Establishing a National Clean Slate Clearinghouse. In the coming weeks, the Department of Labor and Department of Justice will partner to establish a National Clean Slate Clearinghouse to provide technical assistance to local legal aid programs, public defender offices, and reentry service providers to build capacity for legal services needed to help with record-cleaning, expungement, and related civil legal services.
- Permanent Supportive Housing for the Reentry Population through Pay for Success. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice have launched an $8.7 million demonstration grant to address homelessness and reduce recidivism among the justice-involved population. The Pay for Success (PFS) Permanent Supportive Housing Demonstration will test cost-effective ways to help persons cycling between the criminal justice and homeless service systems, while making new Permanent Supportive Housing available for the reentry population. PFS is an innovative form of performance contracting for the social sector through which government only pays if results are achieved. This grant will support the design and launch of PFS programs to reduce both homelessness and jail days, saving funds to criminal justice and safety net systems.
- Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program Awards to Support Public Housing Residents. With funding provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide $1.75 million to aid eligible public housing residents who are under the age of 25 to expunge or seal their records in accordance with their applicable state laws. In addition, the National Bar Association – the nation’s oldest and largest national association of predominantly African-American lawyers and judges – has committed to supplementing this program with 4,000 hours of pro bono legal services. Having a criminal record can result in major barriers to securing a job and other productive opportunities in life, and this program will enable young people whose convictions are expungable to start over.
Many of the announcements being made today stem from the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, which is charged with addressing persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and ensuring all young people can reach their full potential. In May of 2014, the Task Force provided the President with a series of evidence-based recommendations focused on the six key milestones on the path to adulthood that are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact, including Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance. The Task Force, made up of key agencies across the Federal Government, has made considerable progress towards implementing their recommendations, many times creating partnerships across agencies and sectors. Today’s announcements respond to a wide range of recommendations designed to “eliminate unnecessary barriers to giving justice-involved youth a second chance.”
These announcements mark a continuation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to mitigating unnecessary collateral impacts of incarceration. In particular, the Administration has advanced numerous effective reintegration strategies through the work of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, whose mission is to reduce recidivism and victimization; assist those returning from prison, jail or juvenile facilities to become productive citizens; and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.
Through the Reentry Council and other federal agency initiatives, the Administration has improved rehabilitation and reintegration opportunities in meaningful ways, including recent initiatives in the following areas:
Reducing barriers to employment.
Last month, the Department of Justice awarded $3 million to provide technology-based career training for incarcerated adults and juveniles. These funds will be used to establish and provide career training programs during the 6-24 month period before release from a prison, jail, or juvenile facility with connections to follow-up career services after release in the community.
The Department of Justice also announced the selection of its first-ever Second Chance Fellow, Daryl Atkinson. Recognizing that many of those directly impacted by the criminal justice system hold significant insight into reforming the justice system, this position was designed to bring in a person who is both a leader in the criminal justice field and a formerly incarcerated individual to work as a colleague to the Reentry Council and as an advisor to the Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance programs.
In addition, the Department of Labor awarded a series of grants in June that are aimed at reducing employment barriers, including:
- Face Forward: The Department awarded $30.5 million in grants to provide services to youth, aged 14 to 24, who have been involved in the juvenile justice system. Face Forward gives youth a second chance to succeed in the workforce by removing the stigma of having a juvenile record through diversion and/or expungement strategies.
- Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release (LEAP): The Department awarded $10 million in pilot grants for programs that place One Stop Career Center/American Job Centers services directly in local jails. These specialized services will prepare individuals for employment while they are incarcerated to increase their opportunities for successful reentry.
- Training to Work: The Department awarded $27.5 million in Training to Work grants to help strengthen communities where formerly incarcerated individuals return. Training to Work provides workforce-related reentry opportunities for returning citizens, aged 18 and older, who are participating in state and/or local work-release programs. The program focuses on training opportunities that lead to industry-recognized credentials and job opportunities along career pathways.
Increasing access to education and enrichment.
High-quality correctional education — including postsecondary correctional education — has been shown to measurably reduce re-incarceration rates. In July, the Departments of Education and Justice announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program to allow incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants to pursue postsecondary education and trainings that can help them turn their lives around and ultimately, get jobs, and support their families. Since this pilot was announced, over 200 postsecondary institutions across the nation have applied for consideration.
In June, the Small Business Administration published a final rule for the Microloan Program that provides more flexibility to SBA non-profit intermediaries and expands the pool of microloan recipients. The change will make small businesses that have an owner who is currently on probation or parole eligible for microloan programs, aiding individuals who face significant barriers to traditional employment to reenter the workforce.
Expanding opportunities for justice-involved youth to serve their communities.
In October, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the Department of Justice announced a new round of Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps grants aimed at enrolling at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth in national service projects. These grants, which include $1.2 million in AmeriCorps funding, will enable 211 AmeriCorps members to serve through organizations in Washington, D.C. and four states: Maine, Maryland, New York, and Texas.
In addition, the Department of Labor partnered with the Department of Defense’s National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program and awarded three $4 million grants in April of this year to provide court-involved youth with work experiences, mentors, and vocational skills training that prepares them for successful entry into the workforce.
Increasing access to health care and public services.
In October, the Department of Justice announced $6 million in awards under the Second Chance Act to support reentry programming for adults with co-occurring substance abuse and mental disorders. This funding is aimed at increasing the screening and assessment that takes place during incarceration as well as improving the provision of treatment options.
In September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at HHS announced the winners of its reintegration toolkit challenge to develop software applications aimed at transforming existing resources into user-friendly tools with the potential to promote successful reentry and reduce recidivism. And in October, HHS issued a “Guide for Incarcerated Parents with Children in the Child Welfare System” in order to help incarcerated parents who have children in the child welfare system, including in out-of-home-care, better understand how the child welfare system works so that they can stay in touch.” The information can be found at: http://youth.gov/youth-topics/children-of-incarcerated-parents.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) finalized written statewide prerelease agreements in September with the Department of Corrections in Iowa and Kansas. These agreements – now covering the majority of states – ensure continuity of services for returning citizens. SSA also has prisoner SSN replacement card MOUs in place with 39 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. A dedicated reentry webpage is accessible at www.socialsecurity.gov/reentry.
Increasing reentry service access to incarcerated veterans.
In September, the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service announced the award of $1.5 million in grants to help once incarcerated veterans considered “at risk” of becoming homeless. In all, seven grants will serve more than 650 formerly incarcerated veterans in six states.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also has developed a web-based system – the Veterans Reentry Search Service (VRSS) – that allows prison, jail, and court staff to quickly and accurately identify veterans among their populations. The system also prompts VA field staff – automatically – so that they can efficiently connect veterans with services. As of this summer, more than half of all state prison systems, and a growing number of local jails, are now using VRSS to identify veterans in their populations.
Improving opportunities for children of incarcerated parents and their families.
In October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took action to make it easier for incarcerated individuals to stay in touch with their families by capping all in-state and interstate prison phone rates. The FCC also put an end to most of the fees imposed by inmate calling service providers. Studies have consistently shown that inmates who maintain contact with their families experience better outcomes and are less likely to return to prison after they are released. Reduced phone rates will make calls significantly more affordable for inmates and their families, including children of incarcerated parents, who often live in poverty and were at times charged $14 per minute phone rates.
In October, the Department of Justice announced new grant awards to fund mentoring services for incarcerated fathers who are returning to their families. These awards will fund mentoring and comprehensive transitional services that emphasize development of parenting skills in incarcerated young fathers.
Moreover, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the Department of Justice has awarded $1 million to promote and expand services to children who have a parent who is incarcerated in a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) correctional facility. This program aims to provide opportunities for positive youth development, and to identify effective strategies and best practices that support children of incarcerated parents, including mentoring and comprehensive services that facilitate healthy and positive relationships. In addition to engaging the parent while he or she is incarcerated, this solicitation also supports the delivery of transitional reentry services upon release.
Private Sector Commitments to Support Reentry.
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), an organization that provides comprehensive employment services to people with recent criminal convictions, has committed to more than double the number of people served from 4,500 to 11,000 across existing geographies and 3-5 new states. This winter, CEO will open in San Jose with support from Google and in the next year, the team will launch in Los Angeles. This growth has been catalyzed by federal investments, including support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Social Innovation Fund, and a Department of Labor Pay for Success Project.
In addition, Cengage Learning will roll out Smart Horizons Career Online Education in correctional facilities in up to four new states over the next 12 months, providing over 1,000 new students with the opportunity to earn a high-school diploma and/or career certificate online. Smart Horizons Career Online Education is the world’s first accredited online school district, with a focus on reaching underserved populations. The program has been piloted in Florida with 428 students who have received diplomas or certificates.
TULSA – Tulsa’s Center for Employment Opportunities is accepting donations for their participants, who are currently under probation and have past convictions.
The director says these men and women are often neglected by employers, but most of them are trying to turn their lives around like Joseph Offeigbu from Tulsa.
“Everyone who came here through the class has been sincere. They are trying to legitimately help,” says Offeigbu, “Everything else is on me now.”
He is one of the participants who has gone through CEO’s training to learn interviewing skills, how to build a resume and how to prepare for their new job.
Offeigbu says he is qualified to work and has a bachelor’s degree in communications, but often employers overlook that because of his criminal past.
At the end of CEO’s training, participants have a job lined up with one of more than 200 companies.
The organization is in need of more work clothes including belts, suit jackets, dress shirts, shoes and toiletries.
CEO Tulsa opened its doors four years ago to help people find and keep a permanent job.
They have helped more than 1,000 people find employment, and about 60% of them have not gone back to their old ways and have kept their job.
On Tuesday September 29, 2015, the Center for Employment Opportunities’ Business Account Management team met with top employers and leaders in the construction industry from prestigious companies including: McKissack and McKissack, Lettire Construction, Artimus, SLG Construction, and Quality Floorshine. The Council’s purpose is to guide CEO’s industry trainings and workforce development strategies and ensure they are closely aligned with the needs of employers.
McKissack and McKissack hosted the Council meeting and opened by highlighting the importance of identifying opportunities for individuals seeking a second chance, but Aissatou Bey-Grecia, Senior Manager of Workforce Strategies for McKissack, also emphasized how businesses benefit from a diverse and highly skilled workforce.
CEO offers a construction trades training program in partnership with Hostos Community College. The training begins with intensive instruction in construction-related math followed by a 14-week, hands-on skills training at Hostos’ construction trades lab. The Council reviewed CEO’s training curricula, shared their insight and expertise and discussed the fundamental skills they look for when hiring their workforce.
The construction employers made relevant points highlighting the importance of teaching clients to read blue prints among other abilities needed to maximize advancement opportunities in the field. One employer Ethan Bloom said: “The curriculum is everything you need, and could use more focus on certain specialties within the trade” referring to the robust quality of CEO’s trainings to prepare people seeking a second chance to be successful in the construction sector.
October 21st 2015, CEO Buffalo had the honor of hosting Mayor Byron Brown’s press conference regarding The City of Buffalo’s Opportunity Pledge. The Opportunity Pledge encourages businesses, organizations and residents to commit to building a culture of inclusion and equality in Buffalo. The pledge, part of an initiative that is moving Buffalo toward the goal of shared prosperity for all residents, kicked into high gear in July 2015 with the debut of the newly designed logo for the pledge. To date, nearly 3,300 individuals and over 134 organizations have signed the pledge, representing well over 11,976 employees and members.
New York State Director Jeff Conrad spoke on the behalf of CEO praising the Opportunity Pledge and our strong relationship with the City of Buffalo. Former participant, Reginald Alls, also got the chance to speak about the role CEO played in him finding permanent employment with a locally owned community construction agency. Reginald is one month out from his 365 milestone and reiterated how he could never turn CEO down for a favor after all the program had done for him.
It was an honor for CEO Buffalo to host Mayor Byron Brown.
On the evening of Thursday, October 1st, the Greenlight Fund celebrated the launch of the Center for Employment Opportunity’s (CEO) Philadelphia office. Guests heard remarks made by the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter who stated, “The CEO model has proven successful in cities and states across the country. We believe that it can and will be a tremendous addition to our efforts of supporting young returning citizens””
Matt Joyce, Executive Director of Greenlight Philadelphia also said: “With CEO, people that come out of the prison system, are engaged immediately in a work opportunity that has real wages, real structure, real feedback groups, and their likelihood of success is much better.”
Sam Schaeffer, CEO’s Chief Executive Officer, and Ceciley Bradford-Jones, CEO’s Philadelphia Director, expressed gratitude for the innovative partnership between the City of Philadelphia, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Greenlight Fund that made this CEO Philadelphia possible.
Two CEO program participants made inspiring remarks on how CEO has already made an impact in their lives.
Trevon Speed said, “I never imagined that I would be able to come home from prison and be placed in the work field actually making legal income. This was all possible because of CEO.”
Russell McCoy continued, “CEO offers me and many other returning citizens another chance at being successful in the community, decreasing the unemployment rate in the City of Philadelphia, — lowering the return rate for men and women on probation and parole by keeping us working, busy and doing something productive with our lives.”
CEO’s evidence-based model will continue to make an important impact on the lives of individuals coming home from prison by promoting opportunity and providing a path to self-sufficiency for people involved in the justice system in the City of Philadelphia.
Thanks to all of our supporters that made this possible!
On VICE’s Special Report: Fixing the System on HBO, VICE founder Shane Smith explored the American prison system with President Barack Obama and former attorney general Eric Holder. VICE is urging people — and business — to get involved and shined a spotlight on CEO as an organization making a difference by offering people with criminal records a second chance.
Together, VICE and CEO will move beyond conversation to action. With CEO’s expertise and support, VICE will be reviewing its current hiring policies and practices and identify strategies to open up job opportunities to people with criminal records. VICE will also be calling on other business leaders to do the same.
Men and women with criminal records have the skills and drive companies like VICE need, and CEO is thrilled that VICE is leading by example to mitigate the stigma of a conviction.
Check out Politico’s news article about the partnership.
4:49 a.m. | Sep. 29, 2015
Coming off of their hour-long special on America’s criminal justice special, Vice is partnering with a non-profit that helps encourage businesses to hire former prisoners.Vice is working with the Center for Employment Opportunities to not only reassess their own hiring practices to make them more open to the formerly incarcerated, but to also encourage other businesses to do the same.
“Over the course of filming ‘Fixing the System,’ I met scores of men and women in our prison system,” Vice founder and CEO Shane Smith said in a statement. “The first thing that all of them told me is how impossible it is to find a job when they get out. There are lots of reasons for this, but the biggest challenge is that companies aren’t usually willing to take a chance on a person who has made a mistake, or people who have been caught up in the system. I feel strongly that the people running businesses around the United States—from small companies to Fortune 500 conglomerates—bear a responsibility to help change that.”
Vice is also dedicating its entire October print magazine issue and all 10 of its editorial online channels to issues around mass incarceration.
“There are precious few willing to stand up and say ‘we’re going to re-look at our hiring practices’,” said Sam Schaeffer, CEO of the Center for Employment Opportunities.
Schaeffer said Vice became interested in working with the center as they were filming ‘Fixing the System’, which included a visit with President Barack Obama and inmates at the El Reno prison in Oklahoma.
“As significant as (Vice hiring former inmates) is they can also be an evangelist to the business community. They can tell their colleagues in media on the broader, large scale employer sphere that this population is an asset, not a liability. They are highly motivated, deserve a second chance and with a the right support can be highly successful employees,” Schaeffer said.