AC CAN is pleased to introduce one of it’s newest members, The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), which joined the Network in March 2016.
CEO began as a demonstration project of the Vera Institute of Justice in the 1970s to address employment barriers facing the formerly incarcerated. In 1996, CEO became an independent nonprofit organization, providing comprehensive employment services to people newly released from New York State detention facilities. CEO now operates in eleven jurisdictions within four states, and it’s California office is located in Oakland. Regionally, CEO is led by Director of California, Bill Heiser, who has previously managed work on community safety and justice for Urban Strategies Council. Dane Worthington, CEO’s Economic Opportunity Manager, is the organization’s representative to AC CAN.
There are 2.2 million men and women currently incarcerated in the United States. More than 95% of them will eventually return home. Without high quality re-entry opportunities, men and women returning from prison will fail at alarming rates. 615,000 people return from state prison each year and 65-70% of them will return to incarceration at some point. People who are returning from prison may have little or no work experience, and those who have been convicted of felonies face barriers to finding employment and accessing public benefits. Even for those who succeed in finding a job, a criminal record reduces average hourly wages by 11% and reduces average annual wages by 40%, creating huge barriers for those who have been in prison to support themselves and their families.
In 2015, CEO developed an ambitious plan to transform the organization from a proven model serving four states to a national solution addressing one of the country’s most urgent and consequential challenges. CEO’s plan capitalizes on twenty years of experience, evidence, and partnerships and plots a course for deep progress along three key dimensions: organizational scale, program innovation, and policy change. The Center for Employment Opportunities provides immediate and comprehensive employment services to men and women returning home from state prison. The program elements include:
CEO recently launched the Economic Opportunity Initiative to integrate income and asset building skills into their programs. The intention of the Economic Opportunity Initiative is to take a research and market driven, deliberate approach to training design and integration into CEO’s existing model. Programming will focus on three key areas – defining and tracking success, offering hard skills training that leads to career pathways and incorporating financial capabilities to better empower participants financially.
Learn more about CEO in Oakland and get in touch.