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Stepping up for people coming home from prison

Today, something amazing happened at the White House – the #cut50 team stood alongside business leaders, influencers, cabinet officials, and the President to announce major improvements for people coming home from federal prison.

An invitation to the White House's Second Chance Hiring event. Marcus Bullock was one of several formerly incarcerated attendees.

Last year, we led a bipartisan coalition of grassroots advocates, formerly incarcerated leaders, and Members of Congress to pass the First Step Act. This year, we’ve made sure the Trump Administration follows through on fully funding and implementing the law.

Now, we’re working to make sure that as people come home, they have the resources and support they need to succeed.  

The challenges are significant: overcoming stigma, securing stable housing, finding meaningful employment, and accessing transportation, just to name a few.

It really hit us when Marcus Bullock stepped up to the podium at the White House. Marcus was 15 years old when he was sentenced to eight years in an adult maximum security prison. Since coming home, he started a construction company that hires returning citizens. He also became the founder of Flikshop, a tech company enabling incarcerated people to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Marcus openly talked about his struggles with reentry and how his family and community support was critical. Now, he’s helping others transition from prison to success.

We were so proud to stand alongside leaders like Marcus, formerly incarcerated lawyer Johnny Koufos, CEO of Goodwill Steve Preston, President and CEO of the Society of Human Resource Management Johnny Taylor and Kim Kardashian West as they announced a series of commitments to improve outcomes for people coming home: an expansion in the Second Chance Pell Grant Pilot Program that will provide access to college-level classes in federal prisons, an increase in jobs within the public energy sector, pathways into general public sector employment, and access to affordable housing.

#cut50 Deputy Director Alex Gudich (center) at the White House event.

Here are the ways we’re supporting our returning community members:

  • We’re partnering with Root and Rebound to create the First Step to Second Chances Guide for everyone leaving federal prison, with critical information that will help ensure a smooth transition home.
  • The 3,000+ members of our Empathy Network are working on a national resource directory and forming local Welcome Home Committees.
  • We’ve secured over 1,000 hours of therapy, counseling, life coaching, and in-person plus virtual HR trainings to individuals re-entering their communities with the help of Evolution Re-Entry Services, TalkSpace, Little Bird HR, Corporate Life Coach for Your Healthy Reality and volunteer clinicians throughout our Empathy Network.
  • We’re offering resume writing support, job interview prep, referrals to employers, credit repair, and entrepreneurship education by partnering with HR professionals, career coaches, and consultants like Dare To Dream LLC and Yes To Yas Consulting.
  • Our new partnership with Coursera will allow us to curate an online learning community where we will provide free access to vocational, life-skills, and educational courses.
  • And we’re thrilled to partner with Lyft to provide free ride credits for people as they return home to settle into their new lives.

It has been incredible to see so many leaders step up to do their part.

This is all the direct result of #cut50’s commitment to uplifting directly impacted leaders and forming unlikely alliances. It was because courageous leaders shared their stories and built empathy. But most of all, it was because of our partnership with committed supporters like YOU who never give up.

We believe that community members returning home from prison deserve better. Regardless of commitment, skill, or desire to do well, many employers won’t even consider an applicant because of the stigma associated with incarceration. But because of the First Step Act, we are seeing unprecedented interest from leaders in government, business, and the community who want to make sure that our formerly incarcerated neighbors are set up for success when they come home.

This moment would not have been possible without you. We thank you for your commitment and support.

This work was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Margaret and Daniel Loeb Foundation, as part of their work to improve the criminal justice system and ensure every American receives fair treatment under the law. Other efforts supported include: the Innocence Project, the Marshall Project, and the Brennan Center for Justice. 


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