Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services exclusively to people recently released from incarceration.

CEO currently operates in 30 cities and is dedicated to ensuring that justice-impacted job seekers have opportunities to achieve socioeconomic mobility.

Our vision is that anyone with a recent criminal history who wants to work has the preparation and support needed to find a job and stay connected to the labor force. Our program consists of providing participants with immediate employment with daily pay, skills training, job placement, and ongoing career support. CEO is dedicated to ensuring that justice-impacted job seekers have opportunities to achieve social and economic mobility.

Theory of Change

CEO’s Theory of Change posits that if the employment needs of persons with criminal convictions are addressed at their most vulnerable point—when they are first released from incarceration or soon after conviction—by providing life skills education, short-term paid transitional employment, full-time job placement, and post-placement services, they will be less likely to become reincarcerated and more likely to build a foundation for a stable, productive life for themselves and their families.

Based on our Theory of Change, CEO’s program model provides a road map for participants to achieve a long-term goal of remaining attached to the legitimate workforce and maintaining their freedom.


CEO began as a demonstration project of the Vera Institute of Justice in the 1970s to address employment barriers facing individuals after their release from incarceration. In 1996, CEO became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, providing comprehensive employment services to people newly released from New York State prisons and detention facilities. We now operate in 30 cities across twelve states and have made more than 34,000 placements into full-time employment for individuals who were formerly incarcerated.

Our Values

CEO’s values are much more than words on a page. They inform the approach we take to accomplishing our mission at every level of our work. Developed through a rigorous year-long and inclusive process, our values guide the decisions and actions our teams take every day. Hundreds of voices, perspectives, and ideas from members of the CEO community, including participants and staff, have helped shape our values.


We value the unique and unlimited potential of every person connected to CEO.

We celebrate diversity and build on every person’s strengths to help them reach their goals and access their full human potential.


We value the power of community.

We are a local and national team connected by our shared commitment to reducing the harms of incarceration and helping people achieve socioeconomic mobility. We believe that building trust, nurturing strong relationships, and cultivating a sense of belonging are key to creating strong, thriving communities.


We value every returning community member and insist that they have equal access to employment that aligns with their career goals.

Through bold innovation, advocacy, and subject-matter expertise, we work to eliminate barriers and create pathways to long-term, sustainable career opportunities. We work to ensure that all people impacted by the criminal legal system can experience socioeconomic mobility and prosperity.


We believe that everyone, regardless of their circumstance, deserves the opportunity to work toward a stronger future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Our work supporting people impacted by incarceration is focused on advancing racial and socio-economic justice. We center and amplify the expertise of people with direct experience in the criminal legal system to shape our work.