Blog

Participant Stories: Stacey channels his voice and passion into advocacy work

Stacey is an advocacy fellow for the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). He says this position has opened the door for him to tackle issues he cares deeply about.

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Inclusive Hiring: Paying forward his opportunities, Ronnie now helps others succeed

Ronnie knows something about hard work. Growing up on a small farm in Yuba County, Calif., Ronnie and his four younger siblings helped care for the family’s chickens and other animals, including milking the cow every morning and evening.

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Inclusive Hiring: Fair chance conversations: From pilot to companywide strategy with Ken Kuwamura, Union Pacific

Ken Kuwamura of Union Pacific Railroad breaks down how they have developed their talent acquisition strategy to include Fair Chance opportunities. Union Pacific began their Fair Chance Employment pilot in Houston in 2021 and since then have grown their efforts to Los Angeles and the Twin Cities.

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Participant Stories: Over-the-road and onto a new chapter, Rodney finds success in trucking

Rodney, a new trucker, not only drives a long way in a short time for his routes but has come a long way in life in a short time.

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From the Field: Solano health fair provides critical screenings and wellness services

Dozens of people gathered last week for a health fair in Solano County, California. The fair was hosted by the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and provided CEO participants and other formerly incarcerated individuals in the local community with access to free health screenings, wellness information, and food.

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Exclusionary SNAP restrictions hinder Lamar’s success

As the cost of living has risen dramatically around the nation, North Carolina resident Lamar thought he found a solution to help make ends meet: food assistance.

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Inclusive Hiring: Will you be an advocate for inclusive hiring at your workplace?

Inclusive hiring helps maximize access to talent for employers while ensuring that past convictions do not prevent qualified people from joining the workforce.

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Inclusive Hiring: Karina embraces her path as an advocate for criminal legal system reform

When distractions don’t cloud your eyes, the world is bright, and your road is clear as day. This is the newfound perspective of Karina from Los Angeles, California.

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Inclusive Hiring: What does the increase in demand for justice-impacted workers mean?

In the summer of 2022, Harvard Business School published a working paper exploring how employers conduct and leverage criminal background checks. Hiring managers at 1,000 businesses were asked whether they would consider and hire Workers with a Criminal Record (WCs) given the availability and demand for employees

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Participant Stories: Celebrating a full year of employment, Brian looks to the future

This past July, around the time many Americans were celebrating the anniversary of the nation’s founding, Ohio resident Brian celebrated a personal milestone: 365 days of employment post-incarceration.

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Inclusive Hiring: Increasing the demand for workers with a criminal record

Harvard Business School published a working paper outlining a field experiment conducted in partnership with a nationwide staffing platform to test approaches that more directly address the reasons that employers may conduct criminal background checks.

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Making time for leadership

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) recently held its September Leadership Retreat. Over 140 leaders from CEO’s 12 states and 30 offices converged on lower Manhattan in New York City. It was the first time we had all been together since before the pandemic. Over three days we celebrated, learned, and were inspired.

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Staff Stories: From participant to supervisor, George “passes the baton” of success

George calls his full-time job at Center for Employment Opportunities “an answered prayer.” “Not just the job, but to be able to work alongside others,” George says. “To be able to tell them, hey, I know what it takes. Of course, you have to put in the work, but you have people working with you that want to help you.”

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RCS Stories: “I am not my past”: How Matrice took back control of her life

Matrice, a Denver native, was raised with her brother by a single mother in Kansas City, Missouri. She recalls her mother struggling to raise them alone but says they always made the best of it. Despite being a straight-A, honor-roll student, and a girl scout, Matrice says her mother was very strict. She presumes it was to keep her out of trouble.

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Participant Stories: Opinion: Why companies should hire formerly incarcerated workers like me

I’ve been an information technology support specialist in Detroit for half a year now, and I consider myself lucky because I love my job helping other people solve problems. But it wasn’t easy getting here.

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Participant Stories: Jose shares why SNAP benefits are vital for successful reentry

Jose heard about the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) while residing at a halfway house in Philadelphia. With a referral from his unit team, he soon began working with a CEO crew cleaning up the streets of Philly, earning daily pay and receiving coaching to pursue the job of his choice. After 24 years of incarceration, he says the most troubling part of reentry was the fear of recidivism.

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Smithsonian collaboration brings training and job experience to system-impacted scholars

Think of a job a person might apply to after serving a prison sentence. Does a museum professional come to mind? Perhaps it should. The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) recently teamed up with a Smithsonian Institution internship program to help make such a career path possible.

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Preventing reimprisonment of formerly incarcerated individuals starts with higher-paying jobs

The city should work with unions and re-entry providers to create work opportunities that facilitate and track long-term success. Across New York City, the public safety crisis is most acutely seen and felt in low-income communities of color. Indeed, gun violence is ravaging neighborhoods already hit hardest by COVID-19, mass incarceration, unemployment, and low-wage work.

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CEO Updates: Beloved Benefit, headlined by Usher and Maroon 5, raised $6.3 million, CEO is one of eight recipient organizations

The Beloved Benefit, a community impact event that galvanizes the city of Atlanta, aims to inspire positive change through greater economic mobility.

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RCS Stories: How reentry cash assistance gave Heather housing security during COVID

For Heather, a Colorado native, things were looking good in 2020 for the first time in awhile. She was released from incarceration in December of 2019 and the following February she began job training and transitional work with the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a reentry employment provider. But she was having trouble securing a permanent position.

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RCS Stories: Reentry cash assistance meant much more than money for Billy

Billy has been enjoying spending time with his family, including his two boys, who are both in their twenties now, as well as learning to appreciate new outdoor activities, like camping, hiking, and visits to the beach. Things were much harder when he was released.

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Participant Stories: Venitra finds both a career and self-confidence with reentry support

Venitra loves her job as a picker at a warehouse in Oklahoma City, OK. She gets excellent benefits and uses the forklift skills she trained for. However, there was a long period when she was fearful about finding a good position. She was incarcerated during the pandemic and was unsure what work she would be able to do after her release, especially because before being in prison, she and her husband had only worked fast-food jobs.

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CEO Updates: CEO honored as a beneficiary at Atlanta’s Beloved Benefit– featuring Usher and Maroon 5

Center for Employment Opportunities is thrilled to be a beneficiary of the 2022 Beloved Benefit in Atlanta! The Beloved Benefit is an annual gathering to support organizations promoting equity and building strong, healthy communities in Atlanta.

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CEO Updates: CEO continues Grow with Google partnership to provide digital skills training

Today, CEO was thrilled to host Grow With Google at our Oakland location to announce the expansion of their career readiness program for justice-Impacted communities. CEO will scale digital skills training into our job-readiness programming at all 31 locations.

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Participant Stories: With reentry support, Shannon achieves socioeconomic mobility

Shannon has made a career turning struggling businesses into winning operations. But his biggest success has been his ability to turn his own life around in a way that positively influences many.

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RCS Stories: Economic mobility after pandemic job loss, thanks to cash assistance

Losing a job during the pandemic could have been a catastrophe for Shaun. But thanks to the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) program and our Returning Citizens Stimulus (RCS) cash assistance, this setback didn’t stop him from achieving economic mobility.

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Participant Stories: The need for consistent SNAP benefits during reentry

Jordan, a Center for Employment Opportunities participant in San Diego, didn't think he'd need access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While transitioning back home, Jordan's sober living facility provided meals. Even if he had been eligible, Jordan didn't want to apply for a benefit he didn't need. But like so many, Jordan was negatively impacted by a SNAP policy that penalizes people for getting employment training.

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From the Field: Members of Congress hear from justice-impacted individuals

At CEO, we have a vision that each person returning home from incarceration will have access to a quality job and economic mobility. Even though more than 600,000 individuals return home from incarceration each year, they are largely unable to access our country’s public workforce system and the support needed to focus on employment training during reentry. This past winter, CEO invited federal lawmakers to 9 of our sites to hear directly from justice-impacted experts on needed changes to law to make employment training better.

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Policy Updates: CEO Cleveland site director testifies before Ohio legislature in support of more opportunities for judicial release

Devon Hickman, CEO Cleveland Site Director, testified before the Ohio legislature in support of SB 288, which expands opportunities for judicial release in Ohio.

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RCS Stories: Jose’s RCS Story: Without the Returning Citizens Stimulus, “I would have come home to nothing”

“Growing up, I always wanted to be popular and fit in,” Jose says. “That’s basically how it all started.”

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RCS Stories: Carmen’s RCS Story: How cash assistance provided much-needed reentry support, while reuniting a family

Carmen was 40 years old when she found herself caught in the grips of addiction. Carmen’s life began spiraling out of control, resulting in recurring trips to jail and drug clinics, followed by long stretches of probation. She felt her life was starting over again from scratch every time she returned from incarceration or rehab, with no resources or support system. Carmen’s children grew weary of the seemingly never-ending routine, and cut off contact with their mother.

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Participant Stories: How support after incarceration created economic mobility for Joel

Joel was raised in Uptown New Orleans, the youngest of four siblings. Being the “baby boy,” as he calls himself, Joel grew up mostly with just his mother in a “crime-ridden neighborhood.”

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Participant Stories: SNAP Benefits offered me the security to focus on my future

“For individuals returning from incarceration,” Christopher says, “financial support is needed immediately. Without my SNAP benefits, I hate to imagine what life would have been like for me coming home. I never want to be in that position of desperation.”

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Participant Stories: SNAP offers critical support for returning citizens but improvements are needed

Isaac talks on a cell phone outside of a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training center in Detroit, Michigan, during his lunch break. Despite the cold weather, he insists that the fresh air is gladly welcomed. After being incarcerated for over four decades, he is taking the reentry process “day-by-day.” While acknowledging his strong support system of family members, he admits that the transition hasn’t been without its difficulties.

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From the Field: Employers must rethink how they treat talent with criminal record

Imagine what it is like to look for work with a past felony conviction. Every time you are applying for a job, the burden of your conviction weighs on you. You worry about having to explain your conviction to a hiring manager -- a person that doesn’t know you. Even if you are qualified for a job, you might find it hard to get past the initial application process, where you may have to check a box indicating you have a past conviction, and you know deep inside that you won’t get a call back.

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RCS Stories: Aaron’s Story: From prison to business owner

Growing up surrounded by street gangs in Northern California’s East Bay, Aaron says that he always expected to end up in prison one day, and unfortunately, his fears eventually became a reality. However, after his incarceration, Aaron says that his mindset about life had changed.

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From the Field: CEO Profile: A conversation with Chris Watler

CEO is the largest provider of transitional job opportunities for people returning to the community from prison or jail. We connect people immediately to paid employment and guarantee every participant who completes a one-week job-readiness orientation up to four days a week of transitional work on a crew and daily pay – a critical asset during an important time.

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Participant Stories: REVOKED: Just When Things Were Getting Better, I Lost My SNAP Benefits

Jefferson was only 17 years old when he left Rikers Island correctional facility. Upon his release, he lived in a homeless shelter with his children, a situation that lasted for nearly six months. Jefferson’s cousin, an independent contractor, would hire him for construction work whenever there were openings on his crew, but the work was only part-time and intermittent.

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Participant Stories: A Returning Citizen From Michigan Is Giving Back To His Community

Konrad was born and raised in the rough streets of Detroit, Michigan. As a promising student in school, he had hopes of one day attending college. However, due to an abusive father, he found himself homeless and living on the streets at age 13. This unfortunate and dangerous turn of events caused his life to go in a very different direction. After a drug deal gone bad left two men fatally shot, Konrad decided to turn himself in to the police.

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How $24M in Cash Grants Provided a Lifeline for Returning Citizens During Pandemic

Navigating a return from prison or jail is hard even at the best of times. But during a pandemic it can be daunting. Scott, who was released from a California prison this year after serving six and a half years of a 10-year sentence, found a temporary job that required him to drive through hazardous winter conditions from his transitional housing residence in the San Bernardino Mountains.

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Staff Stories: Meet Samra Haider, CEO's New President

We are pleased to announce that Samra Haider has been promoted to the newly created position of President at CEO. This promotion is a recognition of the leadership that Samra has displayed for many years, stewarding the organization through two strategic plans and growth into 12 states across the country.

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RCS Stories: Scott's Story: How Cash Assistance During the Pandemic Led to a Full-Time Salaried Job With Benefits

Scott first heard about the Returning Citizen Stimulus (RCS) program while staying at a transition house near the San Bernardino Mountains in California. Since all of his family lived across the country, he didn’t have much support when returning from incarceration. A mortgage underwriter originally from Florida, Scott had been prepared for difficulties upon reentry, but the COVID-19 pandemic had made the adjustment considerably more challenging.

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Participant Stories: I Had Patience, But More Importantly, I Had a Game Plan to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Ever since he was young, Terrance had always considered himself a business-savvy individual. Hoping to one day open his own customizable t-shirt shop, he set out to educate himself on how to run a small business. While incarcerated in upstate New York, Terrance enrolled in college courses, majoring in Entrepreneurship Management.

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Participant Stories: Inspired by a Commitment to Community and Centering Impacted Voices

“A jail is a lockdown, but prison is a community,” says Charles, citing the work of famed prison reform advocate, penologist, and longtime warden of Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Lewis E. Lawes. Over the 40 years of his incarceration, Sing Sing was just one of the many institutions where Charles was held, in fact, he was there twice. After all of those years, he says that what he ultimately found was a sense of community.

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Policy Updates: Congress Must Invest Now in Jobs for Justice-Impacted Individuals

In the American Jobs Plan, President Biden calls for a $100B workforce investment, including prioritizing justice-impacted individuals and subsidized employment as a proven training tool. As someone who has been there, it’s welcome news for the Administration to recognize just how hard it is for anyone with a history of incarceration to get a job.

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Participant Stories: The Power of Family

Before his arrest, Kish had been staying with his brother and his brother’s ten children. Living together, they had all grown close to one another. Kish lovingly recalls how one of his youngest nieces kept mistakenly calling him “brother” instead of “uncle”. As he was leaving the house one day, he told her that if she knew his name by the time he returned, he would have a gift for her. When Kish returned, his niece called him by his name, and he says that it was one of the proudest moments of his life.

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Participant Stories: Key Fixes for New York’s Broken Parole System Await the Governor’s Signature

After my incarceration at Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility for non-violent offenders in Brocton, New York, I quickly realized I was living in constant fear of reincarceration. My parole officer had issued strict conditions such as travel limitations and unreasonable curfews, which prevented me from getting to work on time. There were incessant home visits, often at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. I was convinced my parole officer was scrutinizing my every move, just waiting for a reason to issue a technical parole violation.

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Staff Stories: Cassie Anderson’s Extraordinary Journey from CEO Participant to Employee

Before becoming a CEO participant, Cassie Anderson confesses that her life was in shambles. She remembers sleepless nights, homeless in her truck, and trapped in an abusive, long-term relationship that ultimately led to her incarceration. Following her incarceration, Cassie returned to Memphis. As someone with an immense passion for caregiving, she was devastated to learn that, due to her conviction, she would no longer be able to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). So, she started applying to various local businesses, but all of her applications were denied. As she started to lose hope, Cassie remembers praying to God and asking for help.

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Fair Chance Conversations: The Economics of Inclusive Hiring with Jeff Korzenik

Levelset is a collaborative initiative of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and Envoy Growth, leveraging our common experience connecting employers with talented, motivated workers who have past justice-involvement.

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From the Field: Google, nonprofits to expand training for previously incarcerated people in Bay Area

Google plans to expand a program to help formerly incarcerated people receive job training and skills, pegged to a White House effort aimed at helping people stay out of prison and jail.

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Benefits of Inclusive Hiring: Watch CEO’s Recent Corporate Roundtable

On April 15, 2021, CEO held an Inclusive Hiring Corporate Roundtable event where a group of expert panelists took a deep dive into how inclusive hiring creates value for employers.

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Participant Stories: Charandip’s Journey: From Incarceration to a Union Job

Charandip is a testament to the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and create economic independence for himself and his family. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Charandip got into legal trouble when he was very young; trouble that followed him into adulthood. He spent a total of six years in prison at different points in his life and came to CEO in 2020, after his last two-year sentence.

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Participant Stories: Draxel Shares the Life-changing Impact of the CEO Program

Draxel Clarke knew that he needed to work in order to get his life back on track. CEO’s coaching, training, and job placement services gave him the tools he needed to succeed. Hear why Draxel believes the program can help others.

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Participant Stories: Jimmy Shares How the CEO Program Changed His Life

Jimmy Pizarro did not let poor decisions he made during his youth define his future. Hear why Jimmy credits CEO with his success and why he thinks people should consider the program after they are released from incarceration.

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Participant Stories: Participant Success Story: Malik Talks About His Journey to Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Malik is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Originally from New York City, he currently resides in Oakland, California. From a young age, Malik spent time in and out of the justice system, including almost a decade in solitary confinement. Being an independent spirit and a go-getter, Malik forged ahead on his own after his release from incarceration. He encountered the barriers most returning citizens face, including: a lack of employment, lack of support, and a landscape that discriminates against Black men with past convictions.

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CEO Updates: Effectively Reaching Young Adult Job Seekers with Prior Justice Involvement

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and our partners launched a Credible Messenger Initiative (CMI) in 2017 as part of a broader strategy to improve services for justice-involved young adults in CEO's NYC workforce development program. The initiative paired young adult participants with full-time mentors who shared similar lived experiences to build trust and connection and to support them throughout their participation in CEO’s program.

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Participant Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Joseph Langdon

I was released from prison in September 2020 after 22 long hard years of incarceration. I went into prison as a 19-year-old young man and returned to the community as a 41-year-old grown man. While in that mad house that is prison, which is full of anger, rage, and negativity, I emerged as a new person with new thinking. While in prison I used my time to engage in self-reflection, education, and hard work, with a focus on being a more productive human being. In that very dark and lonely jail cell, I discovered my untapped talents and purpose. I discovered that I wanted to write and be a public speaker. I want to share my story of struggle, oppression and redemption with people so the lessons of my life can inspire others to be their best selves.

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Staff Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Erica DiMartino

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in people. He acknowledged the divisions that kept us apart and harmed our national character but had confidence that each one of us sought greater unity and equality. He recognized that racism and inequality can never be accepted. We must meet intolerance with education and action to come to a solution. My hope is that we are able to abandon our focus on the comforts of personal prosperity, and instead embrace fidelity to social justice and equality for all. When a life has suffered injustice at the hands of another, no person goes untouched by the repercussions -- Given recent events, we see that now more than ever.

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Staff Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Destiny Fordham

As a young girl I often reflected on what Martin Luther King’s contributions were to our world in awe. I was always so intrigued by his influence and the work he did within the community to organize and stand against racism. His ability to persist and be a leader on racial justice at such a pivotal time still evokes emotion in me today. I saw him as a super man with a superpower.

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Staff Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Wallace St. Clair

The life and teachings of Dr. King have meant a variety of things to me over the years. I was 6 years old when he was assassinated. While I definitely was too young to fully appreciate the lessons of his life, my understanding grew over time and he has since been a champion and role model for me. I remember sitting in the living room with my mother watching and listening to him on the news and radio. I had yet to experience the intensity of the racism being shown on television. My kinship with the people being attacked by dogs, fire hoses and police fostered an undeniable awareness, fear of and anger towards the “establishment.” Simultaneously, there was an invincible air of hope and promise in Dr. King's booming voice that reassured me. It conveyed a sense that we were going to win. I can still clearly see the knowing glances, genuine smiles and nods being exchanged whenever my family gathered to hear him speak.

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Participant Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Betty McKay

Voting became an important issue for me while I was incarcerated at a California State Prison. It became clear to me that the system, which chose to treat me inhumanely and like I was disposable, acquired the power to do so by the public vote. I learned felony disenfranchisement had been a form of voter suppression aimed at black and brown people for over 100 years. Today, I continuously pose the question to myself and others: “If my vote has no power, why have they made it so difficult for me and people like me to exercise our right to vote?”

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Staff Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Keito Gray

"8 minutes 46 seconds. CDs. Wrong House Sleeping at home. Kalief Browder. Trayvon Martin. Central Park Five. Malcolm and Martin. Emmett Till. Nat Turner. The captive Africans crammed into the bowels of a slave ship, who communicated through their tears, and committed suicide as an act of rebellion - I carry these ansestors in the roots of my soul. As a Black man, I was never taught how to survive in a land that has oppressed my soul. I feel foreign to the sole of my feet as I walked on soil that was never meant to nourish and grow me. I carry the weight of injustice, but also the initiative to implement change. Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This serves as the blueprint for the work I do today."

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Staff Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Alexa Harris

"I remember seeing Dr. King’s mural at the Compton courthouse after attending a probation meeting to tell folks about CEO. I remember feeling how important that conversation was because most of our colleagues were coming from South Los Angeles. I remember being in a room with mostly Black people, building relationships that would have a lasting impact. Planting a seed in the community to make a difference. To literally change lives. I am reminded of the countless Black and Brown kids that came in with their parents to our office, seeing their mother or father engaged in conversation with us. I carry that memory as a symbol for anything I do here at this organization: it must be rooted in anti-racism."

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Staff Stories: #MLKDay Series 2021: Ayanna Teesdale

"With the challenges and controversies that we are currently facing in society, Martin Luther King Jr. Day allows us to pause and honor one of America's greatest leaders. We are reminded on this day of all the risks, sacrifices, and consequences he faced to inspire us to stand for social justice and equality for all. Dr. King also showed us that making a difference is a team effort. He didn’t just give speeches, he asked people to join him in peaceful demonstrations and service to others. His words and actions help to inspire those struggling for social progress and opened the doors of opportunity for all people. He called us to get involved in something bigger than ourselves."

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Participant Stories: A First Time Voter Shares His Story

According to the Sentencing Project, 5.1 million people with felony convictions are unable to vote in the 2020 election. Felony disenfranchisement is among the over 45,000 collateral consequences faced by the estimated 19 million people with felony convictions. In response, CEO launched our first-ever voter registration drive focused on helping our participants and others with a felony conviction to exercise their right to vote this cycle. The non-partisan effort, a partnership with Vote.org and Spread the Vote, includes the creation of a voter resource page on our website that allowed voters to check their registration, register to vote and access other information on voting.

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CEO Updates: Meeting The Need: How CEO Has Responded to COVID

The impact of COVID-19 on the health and economic stability of every American is unprecedented, and justice-impacted people are among those most affected, particularly in low-income communities of color from which so many currently incarcerated people come. As our state continues to respond, CEO is active in the community offering employment and training to those returning home from incarceration. Through CEO’s transitional jobs program, participants have been on the front lines providing essential work to their communities.

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Participant Stories: Former CEO Participant And Second Chance Hero Battles Fires in California

Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2147. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino), provides a pathway for inmate firefighters to petition the courts to have their records expunged. CEO participant Victor Canales was released in 2019 before the law was changed. While not a direct beneficiary of the recent change, his story highlights the difficult path that inmate firefighters have to take to pursue a career in firefighting after release. While Victor is still working on his career path, his story offers inspiration for others.

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CEO Updates: Injustice for Breonna Taylor and Many More in Kentucky's Legal System

Breonna Taylor was murdered by the police in her own home, and last week we learned that no police officers will be held criminally responsible. Attorney General Cameron presented limited charges and the grand jury only indicted one officer for wanton endangerment, alleging only that he shot blindly into a neighbor’s home during the raid. This is not only a failure of police officers to do their jobs effectively– it is a failure of the very institutions and laws that are supposed to keep community members safe.

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CEO Joins 50 NYC NonProfits Calling for Police Reform

Policing in the United States has been under increased scrutiny and calls for reform in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more recently, the shootings of Jacob Blake and Trayford Pellerin. These all-too-familiar tragedies serve as direct evidence as to why public trust in policing has declined, especially in low-income communities of color that bear the brunt of these practices.

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CEO Updates: Jobs for Economic Recovery Act: A Necessary Tool for Returning Citizens Seeking Employment

The Center for Employment Opportunities applauds the introduction of the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act by Senators Baldwin, Wyden, Bennet, Booker, and Van Hollen. If passed by Congress, the measure would provide jobs to unemployed and underemployed individuals, including those returning home from incarceration facing multiple barriers to work in an economy severely affected by COVID-19.

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CEO Updates: The need for local leaders to protect and expand rights for returning citizens

The Center for Employment Opportunities stands in outrage over the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other Black men and women who’ve lost their lives to police brutality and racial violence. We strongly affirm Black Lives Matter. Our nation cannot move forward until our institutions and leaders come to terms with the fact that racism is a defining characteristic of our justice system.

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The 2020 CARES Act - At a Glance

The CARES Act (H.R. 748), signed into law on March 27, is a $2 Trillion economic stimulus package intended to provide limited relief to individuals, industries, businesses, states and localities affected by COVID-19. It is “Phase 3” of bills passed by Congress to respond to the pandemic following the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which included policies to improve Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) access temporarily. Even though the CARES Act is the largest economic stimulus package in our country’s history, more federal action will be needed to assist impacted populations, such as CEO participants, and to establish a pathway back from the economic devastation resulting from COVID-19.

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CEO Updates: CEO Responds During COVID-19: Federal Policy Recommendations

The COVID-19 crisis is challenging both our civic structures and our values. As the effects of the sustained economic downturn become further entrenched, those who struggle to access opportunity even in the best of times will undoubtedly bear a disproportionate burden. We have already seen how this crisis has exposed the fault lines of our nation’s inequalities. Communities of color in particular have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 as a result of historic inequities in housing, access to health care and employment. Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of white Americans. If we are to address the needs of COVID-19-impacted communities, it is essential that we account for the people released from incarceration, many of whom will return to low-income communities that are now dealing with record levels of unemployment.

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CEO Updates: Constituent Voice

Constituent Voice (CV) is a strategic effort at CEO to solicit and respond to participant feedback. CV, combined with CEO’s strong performance management and evaluation work, supports increased impact and participant satisfaction. Given Constituent Voice’s central role at CEO, all levels of management engage with client feedback and work to adapt our approach based on that feedback.

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CEO Updates: Policy and Advocacy at CEO

Over the past year CEO has created a new Policy Department that will build upon the strength of our program and push for structural reforms to improve the lives of people coming home from incarceration. Working across all 10 States where CEO operates, our policy and advocacy efforts seek to diminish the impact that mass incarceration, mass supervision, and justice involvement generally, has on the economic opportunities available to a person after being released. Our policy team will be focused on creating more opportunities for individuals to secure employment and reducing the barriers they face in trying to achieve a more stable economic future.

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CEO Updates: SNAP Work Requirements: How Recent Changes Will Affect Individuals Returning Home From Incarceration

In December, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published final federal regulations tightening work requirements for individuals to receive food assistance benefits under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This rule change applies to those receiving SNAP termed “Able-Bodied adults without dependants,” (ABAWDs) and is expected to cut off benefits for 688,000 people. These changes to work requirement waivers bring the first final rule from the three proposed in this past year to restrict SNAP eligibility, a program that is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance resource for low-income individuals.

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#IAmYouCEO Series: Strengthening Skills, Starting a Career. Saed’s Story.

Meet twenty-five year old Saed Dixon. Saed entered CEO’s Albany New York program in August of this year unsure of what to expect. While completing CEO’s one-week orientation, for the very first time in his life, he began exploring his career interests and goals.

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#IAmYouCEO Series: First Day on the Job. Ronald’s Story.

Meet Ronald Fairiror. Ronald enrolled in CEO’s Philadelphia program in September 2018, after being incarcerated for more than 20 years. Thanks to CEO, and the unwavering support of his mother, Ronald has made strides towards rebuilding his life.

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#IAmYouCEO Series: Job Coaching and Placement. Crystal's Story.

Meet Crystal Malone. Upon release from incarceration, Crystal worked hard to find a job. Despite applying for many on her own, and being honest about her conviction history, she rarely even got an interview.

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#IAmYouCEO Series: Building for the Future. Robert’s Story of Advancement.

At a young age, Robert lost the only positive role model in his life, his grandfather, and struggled to adjust. He was incarcerated in his late teens and spent much of the last decade cycling in at out of prison. When Robert returned home in April 2019, he was determined to carve out a different path for himself.

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Staff Stories: Creating a New Paradigm for Reentry Employment: Q&A with the Experts

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CEO Updates: CEO in the News: NYTimes and The Hill

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Nyjheri Carnell

When Nyjheri enrolled in CEO she was 26 years old and had spent a total of five years in prison since she was 20. In the past, it had been easy to fall back into old routines, friendships, and habits when she came home. But this time, she said, something felt different.

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Participant Stories: Charles Brown

Charles Brown began his prison sentence when he was 17. By the time he returned home to Philadelphia he was a 53 year old whose entire adult life had been shaped by the criminal justice system. All of Charles’ accomplishments — from earning his GED to enrolling in college classes to becoming a mentor — were inseparable from his incarceration.

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Participant Stories: Katie Garcia

"[Those] were the first paychecks I'd received in seven years..."

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Participant Stories: Shanon Fulcher

“I did two years in prison, and when I came out I didn’t have the basics … a job, or clothes, or anywhere to stay. My parole officer sent me to CEO and they helped me right away. CEO got me earning money to support myself, and provided me with opportunities to get trained in different skills and get experience in the field. It’s really boosting my resume ... I’ve been working with CEO for three months now, and all these experiences are teaching me how to carry myself and grow and adapt. CEO has really helped me reenter society.”

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CEO Updates: Branching Out in the Rocky Mountain State

CEO opens a new office in Colorado Springs.

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CEO Updates: Growing Our Roots Along the Mississippi

CEO opens a new office in Memphis.

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CEO Updates: Setting Up Shop in the Motor City

CEO opens a new office in Detroit.

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