New Partnership Breaks Job Barriers in Trucking Industry for Formerly Incarcerated While Easing Nationwide Trucker Shortages

Innovative Training Program Opens Doors to High Paying and Sustainable Careers for those Returning from Incarceration

2/29/24 – The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), the nation's leading reentry services provider, and FreeWorld, a nonprofit dedicated to securing high-wage careers for the formerly incarcerated as truck drivers, have forged a groundbreaking partnership that will help create economic mobility for those seeking a second chance while easing a nationwide shortage of certified truck drivers.

This collaboration closes a critical gap in the existing network of trucking schools in the United States, where many programs lack comprehensive permit preparation as part of their Commercial Driver's License (CDL) training. FreeWorld's innovative permit prep services stand out by offering a flexible format that accommodates justice-impacted learners, allowing them to progress at their own pace, with the ability to revisit courses as needed alongside fellow justice-impacted individuals.

"This collaboration enables us to help more individuals leaving incarceration find quality, sustainable careers with salaries of between $60,000 and $100,000 in the first year alone,” said Dane Worthington, CEO’s Director of Mobility Programs. “By combining our resources, expertise, and a commitment to meeting our learners where they are, we are creating a lasting impact on the lives of those seeking a second chance.”

The pilot program reached its 50-person capacity quickly with 70 percent obtaining their permit upon completion, revealing the urgent need and promise for this training. As part of this partnership, CEO can now access FreeWorld's permit prep classes for all of its participants nationwide, approximately 250 individuals in the current fiscal year.

“We are incredibly honored to work with the Center for Employment Opportunities to leverage our curriculum and technology to train and place thousands of returning citizens into living wage careers nationally. By working together and sharing our infrastructure, reach, and resources, we can collectively accelerate towards a world where returning citizens are provided legitimate opportunities to take care of their families and live positive, fulfilling lives, prison-free. We invite other impact oriented organizations to join us!” said Jason Wang, Founder/CEO, FreeWorld. FreeWorld has produced over 1,000 CDL A graduates over the past three years and is on pace to produce 1,000 CDL A graduates this year.

The results of these programs are promising, with an 86% retention rate over 3 years for those who complete the FreeWorld program according to FreeWorld data. The training to certification process can be as quick as 45 days, including the online course and the trucking school. FreeWorld’s instructors not only have decades of experience in the trucking industry, but are returning citizens themselves providing a unique insight into the types of services that these students need.

FreeWorld's weekly classes on each subject of the permit exam offered at different times made attending very convenient for my schedule. Having a knowledgeable instructor with visual aids really helped me to remember the content and pass not only my permit but now my full CDL license," said Justin McNair, a CEO San Diego participant who completed the training.

A key advantage of this collaboration is CEO's and FreeWorld’s ability to negotiate lower rates with trucking schools. CEO participants only require the behind-the-wheel portion of the training post-permit and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) certification. This strategic approach allows CEO and FreeWorld to maximize the impact of its current funding levels, reaching more individuals seeking to rejoin the workforce.


About CEO

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 in 12 states and is dedicated to ensuring that justice-impacted people have opportunities and careers to achieve socioeconomic mobility. For more information, please visit:

About FreeWorld

FreeWorld is a tech nonprofit that aims to end generational poverty and recidivism for returning citizens nationally. Today, that means that FreeWorld trains and places returning citizens into living wage careers in the trucking industry. In the future, FreeWorld will branch out into other vocational fields like geothermal drilling. FreeWorld currently operates in 8 States and 28 cities. For more information, please visit