New Partnership Helps Recently Incarcerated Young People Get and Keep Jobs

Published oct. 03, 2017

Center for Employment Opportunities Receives $4.5 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Labor, in Partnership with Jobs for the Future

Will Heaton, Director of Policy and Public Affairs

Eugenie Inniss, Communications Associate, 857.268.4180

New York, NY—October 3, 2017— Young people make up 10 percent of the U.S. population, however, they account for 30 percent of all arrests and 21 percent of all prison admissions. This means a high number of young adults are not only returning to their communities from incarceration, but they often haven’t completed high school and have minimal—if any—work experience. Full-time employment can be one of the most important factors for preventing recidivism but, without an education or work experience, young adults face significant barriers when seeking employment. It’s critical to provide these young adults with the skills they need to find employment and succeed in the workforce. 

To address these barriers, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and Jobs for the Future (JFF) announce a partnership, fully supported by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, to help young adults ages 18–24 returning from incarceration gain the necessary work experience, skills, and confidence to find and retain employment. The program will strengthen CEO’s nationally recognized model in three cities: New York, New York; Oakland, California; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

CEO is a nationally recognized leader in helping individuals recently released from incarceration gain the necessary work experience, skills, and confidence to find and retain employment. Young adults returning home from incarceration have tremendous potential and represent the future of our country, yet far too many of them never have an opportunity to succeed. “CEO’s proven employment services program offers young adults an opportunity to build the skills and experience they need to succeed,” said Sam Schaeffer, CEO’s chief executive officer.  “We are proud to partner with JFF, whose nationally recognized leadership developing career pathways will significantly strengthen CEO’s capacity to provide young adults with the support they deserve.” 

CEO provides highly structured and tightly supervised programs that help participants regain the skills and confidence needed for successful transitions to stable, productive lives. CEO’s program is an evidence-based model. In a random control trial evaluation by the independent research firm MDRC, CEO was found to reduce rearrest, reconviction, and reincarceration of recently released individuals by statistically significant margins of 16–25 percent in the three years following release from prison. MDRC also found that, for every dollar spent, CEO generated up to $3.30 in taxpayer savings. CEO’s program is unique in that it recognizes that each young adult has unique risk factors and needs, and tailors its program accordingly to provide individualized services for them. 

JFF works with partners across the country to develop education and training programs to prepare returning citizens for good jobs. “Young people returning from incarceration need extra support and customized training approaches to ensure that they are successful in reentering society and unlocking their talent and potential,” said Maria Flynn, JFF’s president and chief executive officer. “JFF is proud to partner with CEO to combine our expertise in education and career pathway development with their proven approach to reducing recidivism for young people. Together, we will help young people get the second chances they need, and build models that can be replicated across the country.” 

Under the grant, JFF will work with CEO to design and implement sector-focused and competency based career pathway programs that are customized to meet the needs of CEO’s young adult constituents, building on two of JFF’s evidence-based, career pathway methodologies: Accelerating Opportunity and Back on Track. Accelerating Opportunity helps low-skilled adults earn higher-wage jobs faster by combining basic skills and career and technical training into one curriculum. JFF’s Back on Track work focuses on postsecondary success strategies for off-track young adults (e.g., academic skills, navigational skills, a growth mindset, resilience, and self-agency) and career guidance. JFF will incorporate this programming in phases of CEO’s program to enhance the likelihood of young adults securing credentials and long-term employment. 


About the Center for Employment Opportunities 

The Center for Employment Opportunities is a nationally recognized leader in helping individuals recently released from incarceration gain the necessary work experience, skills, and confidence to find and retain employment. CEO’s highly structured and tightly supervised programs help participants overcome significant barriers to employment and successfully transition to stable, productive lives.

About Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future is a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations in the United States. JFF develops innovative career and educational programs and public policies that increase college readiness and career success, and build a more highly skilled workforce. With over 30 years of experience, JFF is the national leader in bridging education and work to increase economic mobility and strengthen our economy.