What's Fair in Hiring: Beyond Ban the Box

Media Alert

For Immediate Release
Date: 03/29/18
CONTACTS:  Stephanie Jones 612-279-5818 or sejones@twincitiesrise.org or Jacquelyn Carpenter 612-666-8026 or jcarpenter@twincitiesrise.org


What’s Fair in Hiring: Beyond Ban the Box


Twin Cities R!SE, an organization nationally recognized for its success in training lower income adults for long-term employment, has developed the "Minnesota Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring Guide" to support employers' efforts to recruit, hire, train and retain job seekers with criminal records. The kick-off event for the Minnesota Employers’ Fair Chance Hiring guide will be held on April 26th at the Sunrise Bank Community Event Space. Commissioner Kevin Lindsey, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, will host a panel discussion. This free event is open to all employers, HR professionals and community workforce organizations, but registration is requested.

"Minnesota is facing a historic labor shortage. Yet, many Minnesota residents and potential workers remain unemployed or under-employed due to a past criminal conviction, despite having served their time and wanting to be a productive, contributing member of our community. The Minnesota Fair Chance Employers’ Guide provides a clear path for Minnesota corporations and businesses to hire those with criminal convictions in their past. It is a practical how-to guide that dispels the many myths surrounding hiring those with criminal history in their backgrounds," states Tom Streitz, President and CEO of Twin Cities R!SE. 

By learning how to evaluate such applicants, employers can increase their supply of talented employees, meet their legal obligations, and improve their communities. The time is now, for both moral and economic reasons, for Minnesota employers to engage in an intentional and proactive strategy to move marginalized workers into the mainstream of their hiring practices. We hope this ‘how-to’ guide will become an active road map for employers to start hiring talented individuals into their workforce.

“In 2014, all employers implemented Ban the Box statewide, which really just moved the compliance topic and inquiry to the end of the hiring process vs. the beginning. What Ban the Box did not do was provide employers with tools to properly guide them through approaching this topic differently during their hiring process,” states Jacquelyn Carpenter, Business Development Manager at Twin Cities R!SE. “This guide will now provide that second step and address changing the hiring strategies that hinder employers and community members.”

The guide was developed in partnership with Root & Rebound, a workforce organization in California. Minnesota is now the third state to produce this guide as a resource for employers.

For more information on the event, the guide, and to register, go to https://fair-chance-mn.eventbrite.com. All attendees will receive a free copy of the guide.



About Twin Cities R!SE :

Twin Cities R!SE (TCR) transforms lives through personal empowerment, career training, and meaningful employment. We assist people who face multiple social and economic barriers get on the path to stable employment. Through our career training programs individuals gain the self-confidence they need to be financially independent and succeed at work and in life.  As an outcomes-driven organization and a nationally recognized leader in Pay-For-Performance funding, Twin Cities R!SE demonstrates accountability and results.  With job retention rates  that far exceed local and national averages, Twin Cities R!SE helps individuals build a better life which, in turn, supports economic growth by providing stable employment leading to a better, stronger community.





Metro Transit Technician Training Program receives Better Government Award

Governor Mark Dayton Recognizes State Government Problem Solvers

The Better Government Award winners demonstrate efficient and effective government services for Minnesotans


Saint Paul, MN — Three teams of state employees were honored today with the Better Government Awards, which recognize successful innovation in state government and the hardworking public servants delivering excellent service to Minnesotans. These initiatives improved the efficiency and effectiveness of government services for Minnesotans in three categories: Great Customer Service, Great Place to Work, and Great Results.

“Minnesotans expect and deserve an effective, responsive, and inclusive state government,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “These projects are just a few extraordinary examples, among many, of how we are building a better government for the people of Minnesota. I thank these dedicated public servants for their tremendous efforts to improve the quality of services provided to Minnesotans.”

Since 2010, the Governor’s Better Government Awards annually celebrate state employee work accomplishments that have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of state government services. A near record total of 60 projects were nominated for an award by teams from almost every state agency.

“Governor Dayton’s Better Government initiative has empowered state employees to make state government more accountable, transparent, efficient, and effective for all Minnesotans,” said Administration Commissioner Matt Massman. “Today’s award recipients as well as the large number of submissions demonstrate the commitment by this administration and public employees to providing the innovation and excellent service Minnesotans expect from their government.”

The 2017 winning Better Government projects:

Great Place to Work

Minnesota state government will experience approximately 1,000 retirements a year over the next decade, as Baby Boomers exit the workforce. This had made employee recruitment and retention a top priority across state government.

Metro Transit Technician Training Program – Metropolitan Council

The Metro Transit Technician Training Program puts job seekers on a path to full-time roles as bus or rail technicians through a combination of job and skills training, a paid internship and support toward earning an associate degree. This award-winning workforce development program produces the mechanic workforce of the future and supports the agency’s commitment to workforce diversity and equity. To date, more than 100 people, all lower-income earners, have or are participating in the program. The training program was developed in partnership with the Amalgamated Transit Union-Local 1005, Twin Cities R!SE and Hennepin Technical College. Mechanic-Technicians have also served as mentors. Funding has come from the state and the Federal Transit Administration.


Impacting Lives Through Social Enterprise: LA Kitchen


Twin Cities R!SE President and CEO, Tom Streitz, spent time in Los Angeles this past week visiting nationally recognized job training programs.

During this time, Tom was able to meet with Robert Egger, President of the nationally renowned LA Kitchen, and take a tour of their facility.

LA Kitchen believes that neither food nor people should ever go to waste. Within their program, they recover millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded for minor imperfections, train men and women facing homeless or reentering the community for food service careers, and provide healthy meals to fellow citizens.

LA Kitchen has three major programs: 

  • 1 – Impact LA ensures food never goes to waste, and instead is used to nourish the most vulnerable communities. 
  • 2 – Empower LA  trains formerly incarcerated or ex foster care young adults for jobs in the culinary arts. 
  • 3 – Strong Food is a social enterprise that sells food to local businesses.

The time spent with LA Kitchen was inspiring, as we hope this model can be brought to the Twin Cities.


Skills That Equal Success

Inclusion – Diversity - Culture Fit - Inter-Personal Skills – Integrity - Grit

These are all the key attributes and character traits that we try our best to identify during the interview process.  Companies put forth effort and rigor through the hiring process to predict a prospective employee’s success on the job!  Yet, even the best interviews can leave you with a surprise. 

In effort to help your organization succeed with higher retention, engaged employees, and an inclusive culture ~ let’s put some rigor in training your staff AFTER they are hired! 

Layer up the efforts of your interview with strong Personal Empowerment Training to elevate these personal traits. Twin Cities R!SE offers amazing workshops around Emotional Intelligence allowing your teams to achieve personal awareness, self-confidence, self-control, and social management. This adds value to your organization’s team, inter-dependence skills, positive communication and inclusion of your staff.  Our training is based on the core values that everyone is important ~ when we invest in our people, we can all achieve amazing success!

For workshop details, topics, and categories ~ please contact Jacquelyn Carpenter

For higher levels of training options ~ please consider our Empowerment for Leaders session ~


Early Spring Session 2018
Dates: Classes held March 9, 10, 16, and 17, 2018
Times: Fridays, 4:00 to 7:00 PM and Saturdays, 8:00 to 11:00 AM
Location: TCR Minneapolis
Fee: $999

To enroll, contact Jacquelyn Carpenter at 612-666-8026 or email jcarpenter@twincitiesrise.org.

Workforce Training + Technology: TCR's New App!

Twin Cities R!SE is leading the way in bridging the gap between technology and workforce training.

You can now find an app in the app store custom built for Twin Cities R!SE participants and graduates! This task oriented app allows career coaches and participants to easily stay connected and engaged in participants’ personal career development plans. The app was developed under the direction of Alan Hupp, a supporter and consultant for TCR, and Ralph Pruitt, TCR Career Coach and graduate, by Stanford University computer science students as part of their senior project. “The goal of the app is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of TCR’s coaching model, while helping more people complete their individual success plans and reach their career goals,” explains Hupp.

Alan Hupp (center) was presented with an appreciation award by TCR's Career Coaching staff for his hours of dedication. 

Alan Hupp (center) was presented with an appreciation award by TCR's Career Coaching staff for his hours of dedication. 

Stanford students Rui Michael Aguiar, Stephanie Brito, Sahaj Garg, and Anika Raghuvanshi shared that they chose to work with TCR because TCR’s mission was particularly inspiring and they personally felt that they could make difference. “Creating something that was simple and easy to use, all while providing complicated functionality behind the scenes was a difficult task, but an incredibly rewarding experience.” shares Aguiar. David Wang, a recent Stanford grad and Twin Cities transplant, has volunteered to maintain the app and further increase its usability. Hupp, who specializes in the intersection of learning and technology has even greater plans to use technological advances to increase the scale and reach of Twin Cities R!SE’s Empowerment Institute.

Innovative Hiring ~ What Does That Mean?

Original, new, novel, fresh, unusual, pioneering, ground-breaking.

How can we achieve innovation in our hiring and recruiting? We are all feeling the pain points of extremely low unemployment. Its time our recruiting teams add value without reinventing the wheel ~ but how?

Rely on your community partners ~ we are the heartbeat of the market with networks into many different pockets of fabulous people. Work that network differently and partner with them in an innovative way! 

At Twin Cities R!SE, we create training paths that are specific to your organization ~ we work directly with you in a collaborative way to train new candidates for you to consider, hire, and, most importantly, retain. Our holistic coaching methods lead to long-term success for both the candidate and the employer.

Developing your workforce is the only way to succeed in this highly competitive talent market we are in. 

Pioneer your recruiting partnership with a trusted organization that has 25 years of success in the Twin Cities!

Contact Jacquelyn Carpenter, Business Development Manager, for more information.


Overcoming Adversities and Life’s Turning Points from a Coach’s Perspective: by Shereese Turner

On My Journey to Wonderful I had to Pass Despair: Overcoming Adversities and Life’s Turning Points from a Coach’s Perspective: by Shereese Turner, TCR Director of Programs and Operations

Why is it that some may reflect and respond in a calm manner while others just explode with so much negativity and bad attitudes?  Why is it that some thinking traps or hinders our ability to think rationally?


We live in a world of images, unrealistic expectations, materialism, capitalism, and overreaction to life’s situations with so much pain and hostility.  We no longer operate on a value base system as a matter fact, identifying core values and communicating with respect often become a thought after the fact.  Your attitude is more important than the past, than material things, titles, circumstances and failures. Life has a way of showing up and often times showing completely out.

The feeling of internal power enables us to function at the peak of our capability in identifying our “Life Turning Points” and how resilient we really are.  What I’ve come to understand is that the outer layer of people’s lives never shows us how many holes the person has inside.

Caring for and providing emotional support for someone is filled with many possibilities...the possibility of touching someone in a way that may hurt their spirit, or of touching those in a way that may help them heal. Professional Career Coaches are making a commitment of investing in true wealth...the true wealth and richness of human beings no matter what picture was painted in their past.

We have the power to mend ourselves, and by remaining authentic in our own feelings, to not forget to honor our stories and the stories of those we serve. A coach is our new superhero! Have you hugged a coach today?


HR Representatives, You can change your "No" into an Opportunity!

Declining too many candidates?  Change it up to create a win!

Today, recruiting teams often decline more candidates than they want to admit ~ for several reasons; education barriers, mismatched skills, not enough work history, lack of employment stability, missing required skills, wrong industry… the list can go on and on. It is a challenge to find the right talent at the right time.


How many rejection letters go out daily and weekly in your work processes?  Too many to count?!  Imagine a way to change the dynamics.  Here’s what can you do differently. 

Change your decline letter, to allow candidates a resource, a referral, and a way to turn that "No" into a  future "Yes"!  Provide them with a resource to simply better themselves through a fabulous career training program!  This option gives you, as the employer, a way to build up your own future workforce while creating and maintaining positive relationships with job candidates.

Instead of saying ‘no’ and ‘knocking out’ many candidates that are interested in working for your company ~ refer them to a great community program that will be a partner to you and your future hiring needs. 

When you refer your candidates to Twin Cities R!SE for continued career training, they will also receive one on one professional coaching support, and sector based employment opportunities.  We stand ready to be an option for those you are not able to provide an offer letter to. 

Helping everyone in our community achieve meaningful work is a success for all of us and keeps our Twin Cities area thriving. Assisting candidates to better themselves is a key way to set your organization apart and up for future success!  This also creates a great reputation for your own brand in the community.

You can start today, routing candidates that you don’t hire to community partners like Twin Cities R!SE. We are a resource for you to help build up our community's workforce! 

Contact Jacquelyn Carpenter, Business Development Manager for more information.




Metro Transit Welcomes Prospective Technicians!

Full Article by Drew Kerr

Wearing an oil-stained florescent jacket, Ravie Sawh stood before a group of 50 job seekers and their supporters at Metro Transit's Overhaul Base last week.


The group was assembled to hear what their futures could look like as the newest participants in the Metro Transit Technician Training program and, eventually, as full-time mechanic-technicians at the agency. 

“You’re going to have to start motivating yourself every day,” Sawh told the group. “But if you’re looking for a job where you’re never going to be bored, this is the place for you.”

Sawh was among the first individuals to participate in the MTT training program, which combines personal development, on-the-job training and support toward earning a two-year associates degree.

Two years after starting, he and a dozen others from that first group are working as full-time Bus Maintenance interns and looking forward to graduating from Hennepin Technical College next spring.

A second group of MTT participants being guided toward careers in Rail Maintenance are also working as full-time interns after starting classes at Hennepin Technical College this fall.

Now at Heywood Garage, Sawh has already cast his gaze well past graduation: He wants to retire from Metro Transit after 30 or more years of service.

The new MTT participants welcomed last week were encouraged to start envisioning a similar future for themselves, despite the difficult road ahead. Many of the participants have little or no mechanical experience and will have to juggle classes, second- and third-shift work, tutoring and other responsibilities to reach the finish line.

“We need people with grit, people who are going to stay with it,” said Wanda Kirkpatrick, the director of the Met Council's Office of Equal Opportunity. “But why are you going to do it? Because at the end of the day this is going to feed you, feed your family and make sure the place you live is the place you want to live.”

The Office of Equal Opportunity is leading the program with support from Bus Maintenance and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005. Several technicians will be tapped to serve as mentors.

Minneapolis-based non-profit Twin Cities R!SE is also a key partner. The participants’ first step is to finish 12 personal empowerment classes offered by the organization.

A group of 20 participants who finish those classes and meet other criteria will be invited to move forward to the program’s next phases, including custom training, a full-time paid internship and support toward earning an associates degree.

Successful participants starting this month will be eligible to apply for full-time technician roles in late 2020. Full-time technicians now start at around $27 an hour, a wage many at the Overhaul Base last week said would be life-changing.

Thomas Scott, who is overseeing the program on behalf of the Office of Equal Opportunity, said the prospect of a good-paying career should be just a part of the motivation. More than 250 people applied for the program.

“Remember how many people wanted this opportunity,” Scott told the group.


Brian Funk, Deputy Chief of Operations-Bus, said the program comes at an opportune time for the agency. Retirements and system expansion are creating more openings while fewer young people are pursuing skilled trades careers.

The program also supports the agency’s equity and diversity goals: Nearly 90 percent of the participants in the new group are people of color. There are nine women. 

“We know we need to do something different than drawing from traditional methods,” Funk said. “Thankfully, that’s why you’re here.”

   > Technicians in training celebrate early milestone

   > Technician training program gets national recognition

   > Aspiring Mechanic-Technicians build skills, confidence

   > Employment at the Council

R!SE UP: Strategize Your Life!

TCR Day 2-70.jpg

Eric came to Twin Cities R!SE in need of a change.

“I was seeking direction in life, just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Twin Cities R!SE offered me an opportunity to get myself together.”

What have you learned while at TCR?

I’ve learned how to empower myself. I learned how to be dependable, self-sufficient and also how to interview myself.

What would you say to someone thinking about coming to TCR?

If they are serious about seeking a career, this is the best place for them. Not only does TCR help you find a career, they help you maintain a career. It helped me with my speech, how to articulate, and how to present myself.

Has it been beneficial having a career coach?

“Yes, it has. Having a career coach is very beneficial. He helped me to strategize my life, my plans. Every person within Twin Cities R!SE has been willing to help.”

Eric has recently earned his CDL class A driver’s license and is starting his career as a truck driver.


We recently received news that we lost a member of our Twin Cities Core Program family, Eric Cornley, who died over the weekend in his sleep. For those who knew Eric, knew Eric to be our big 'ole Teddy Bear and someone who was achieving great things in life with the guidance of his Coach Ralph Pruitt and with some employment assistance from Bill Bridgeman.

Recently, Eric received full time employment, obtained his CDL license and just moved into his own apartment!

Eric was the epitome of who we would describe as a transformed individual with a  year of sobriety under his belt.We offer our deepest sympathy to Eric’s family, friends and his extended family here at Twin Cities R!SE and Turning Point. This is never easy and no one is ever prepared to deal with sudden loss. Please join us in keeping Eric’s family in your thoughts. This is a difficult time for everyone. 

Affirmation Day 073.jpg

Rising above: How a Minnesota non-profit is helping people find meaningful work

Twin Cities R!SE has a long partnership with RBC. They work with us to not only provide participants with interview experiences that offer immediate and valuable feedback, but with volunteer grants and gift matching, RBC has donated over $150,000.

Learn more by reading their volunteer spotlight featuring Twin Cities R!SE.

Full Article RBC Wealth Management

While finding a job can be difficult, keeping a job can be even more challenging.

For those trying to accomplish either – while also dealing with a chemical dependency, criminal background, family trauma, mental health issue or homelessness – it’s nearly impossible. And too often, the lives of people facing these common situations become broken by generational cycles of poverty. 

Fortunately, there’s a job training organization dedicated to helping end this cycle in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. And they’re doing it a little differently: with purpose and with dignity. 

By emphasizing and teaching personal empowerment skills – in addition to professional skills – the non-profit Twin Cities R!SE (TCR) is transforming lives through meaningful employment. 

As a current participant, Pam, explains, “To me, meaningful employment means that I’m responsible, skilled and employed in a job I am comfortable with and fully capable of doing. Twin Cities R!SE has given me the skills to be able to do that...it’s been life changing.” 

Doing it with dignity

Through their signature Personal Empowerment program, TCR equips the participants that come through their program with skills for long-term success, including self-confidence and self-reliance. Individuals learn how to identify, regulate and manage their emotions. 

Over the course of eight weeks, they grow to understand that they are loveable, important and valuable – powerful ideas and phrases that they may have never heard before. 

During their time in the program, participants take other classes as well, including career development, structured job search, empowered communication, speech craft, computer courses and workplace collaboration. This is all to develop their 21st century skills. But the Personal Empowerment course has remained the key differentiator for the continued success of TCR. 

For the past 10 years, 82 percent of their program graduates have had a one year employment retention rate, which is double the national average for organizations like them. And they have further proof points as well. 

“The average participant comes to us making less than $5,000 a year and graduates earn over $28,000 a year,” says Brian Herstig, TCR vice president of advancement. “That’s a five- or six-fold increase, and that kind of jump in income is really transformative. 

“It allows people to take off their harnesses, get their families back, contribute to society and take control of their lives again. And it puts them on a path to financial independence.” 



RBC Wealth Management’s Mick Dyer talks to fellow employees and TCR participants at a job interview role-playing session

Finding a connection 

“The outcomes that TCR produces are really phenomenal,” says RBC Wealth Management senior copy writer and long-time TCR volunteer, Mick Dyer. 

“TCR is a nonprofit that’s run like a business and they have measurable results. So you know that the time you put into or the money you donate to it will deliver a return on your investment; it’s very well run and very well managed.” 

Nine years ago, Dyer attended a presentation at RBC that featured TCR, and he left the meeting captivated by their powerful mission, effectiveness and ideas on empowerment. 

At that time Dyer was Chair of the RBC Multicultural Employee Alliance (MEA), an employee resource group that supports diversity and inclusion at the firm, as well as establishing relationships with diverse communities. He recognized right away that TCR was the community organization that his group was looking to volunteer with. So with collaboration from both sides, Dyer helped to establish a job interview role-playing program. 

Through this program, TCR participants have the opportunity to show what they’ve learned in the classroom, and receive verbal and written feedback in a real-life scenario. Afterward, there is often lunch and a networking social hour for everyone to enjoy together. 

Since 2008, RBC has worked with 20 to 30 TCR participants nearly every quarter, and to date, it’s one of TCR’s longest on-going relationships with an employer partner. 

Herstig credits the success and longevity of the program to the partnership between RBC and TCR, which has to do, in part, with Dyer. 

“Every cause needs a champion, and for this cause Mick is that champion,” says Herstig. 

Even with leadership and staff changes within both TCR and RBC, Dyer has been consistent, Herstig said. “He understands that it is really easy to make a difference in someone’s life… and he really understands what it can mean to an individual – and that’s why I think he continues to do it.” 

Additionally, it’s the empowerment aspect that energizes Dyer and keeps him tied to the organization, even completing additional volunteering outside of work, helping TCR with other marketing needs like newsletters and surveys. 

“I think when you’re around empowered people, you see how to be empowered yourself,” says Dyer. “They’re role models.” 



Bill Bridgeman of TCR thanks Mick Dyer at a job interview role-playing session

A new way of life 

TCR participants acknowledge the transformative nature of the program as well. One practice interview participant, Scottie, explained that empowered living has become a way of life. 

“When I first got to Twin Cities R!SE, I was a person that never spoke to anybody, never looked them in the eye, never did anything,” he said. “I was a person that was used to being quiet, basically a really hurt guy. But the empowerment course really brought me out of my shell and prepared me for the real world.” 

As a previous career coach and current business development coordinator at TCR, Tynaia Pittman has witnessed countless individuals like Scottie overcome their challenges and hardships. 

“When they use the tools that were presented to them, little by little you can see them change the way they talk, the way they walk, who they hang around, and how they perceive themselves and other people,” she explained. 

Once the participants have graduated from the program, are working full time and making at least $21,000 a year, TCR holds a ‘ring the bell’ ceremony. Each individual gets to ring the celebratory bell at the TCR offices, and share their story with staff and other participants. 

It’s an inspirational moment, and one that shows – as Dyer likes to say – “empowerment is for everybody.” 

A job after prison: Advocates make the case for an under-used workforce

The formerly incarcerated represent an untapped national workforce of millions.

This recent article in the Star Tribune business section highlights the work of Twin Cities R!SE  in preparing returning citizens for job success through Personal Empowerment and career training.

Full Article  Photos by Shari Gross, Star Tribune

Davis Powell works at Pomp’s Tire Service in Savage where he inspects and repairs tires. “Overall, it’s a good job with good benefits,” said Powell, 33, a two-year employee.

Powell has gone from being a penniless inmate in a Minnesota state prison four years ago to a $14-an-hour employee, plus benefits and ample overtime, a shared apartment, a car and a future.

Powell also represents an untapped national workforce of millions of formerly incarcerated people.


“My crime came out of pride and low self-esteem,” said Powell, who was released months early in 2013 for good behavior following a robbery conviction. “I’m not going back to prison.”

Powell, while on probation, went through personal-empowerment and job-skills training provided by Twin Cities Rise, the 25-year nonprofit that helps unemployed and underemployed folks boost their technical and personal skills and advance in careers through jobs that range from office work to mechanics and bus drivers. While enrolled at Rise in north Minneapolis, Powell also worked a temp job that required a three-bus commute.

Empowerment training, which Rise teaches to business managers as well as former inmates, involves humility, decisionmaking, communication skills and owning your choices.

“Empowerment motivated me,” Powell said. “I’ve gained the skills. To listen and express myself professionally. I took the classes. I went from a low credit score to high credit [score]. Despite my background, I felt I deserved a second chance. And I know if I do well, maybe other people and employers will see that. And it will help open the door for others.

“One of my goals is to take a vacation. And I want to own a home one day.”

Formerly incarcerated people, disproportionately lower-income people of color, have been a tough group to employ, even in a worker-hungry, low-unemployment rate economy. However, there’s evidence that employers and society are starting to reconsider.

A groundbreaking report this summer by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its Trone Private Sector and Education Advisory Council, provides a road map. Called “Back to Business: How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Jobseekers Benefits Your Company,” the report has been embraced by the disparate likes of criminal justice reformers, including Google, Total Wine, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Koch Industries, Walmart and others.

“We have hired individuals with criminal records as employees for decades by getting to know them as candidates first and looking into their background only after they have received a conditional offer,” Mark Holden, general counsel of Koch Industries, said in a prepared statement. “These employees have been humble and diligent contributors, and we encourage other employers to think about hiring differently.”

Seventy million Americans — one in three adults — have a criminal conviction, according to the report authors.

The ACLU report offers practical advice for employers looking to tap into this often overlooked talent pool, providing case studies, compliance recommendations and hiring advice.

The report stresses the importance of not simply creating entry-level positions, but also career pathways that start with prison education and training that continues along the employment ladder.

“Large and small businesses alike can reap dividends by providing second-chance opportunities to returning citizens,” said Janice Davis, vice president and general counsel of eWaste Tech Systems. “Our experience has shown returning citizens to be as reliable, if not more reliable, than citizens without any criminal history.”

CEO Tom Streitz and Jeff Williams, director of the Empowerment Institute at Twin Cities Rise, said the retention rate for their graduates who were formerly incarcerated is higher than average.

“We have 80 percent retention for one year and 70 percent for two years,” Streitz said. “That’s double the national average of retention on a [entry-level] job. We not only provide a great employee, but one who will stick.”

However, Williams said barriers persist, including concern that hiring former inmates will drive up insurance rates.

“It’s a myth that anyone who has committed a crime is a bad person who cannot change,” he said.

CEO Thomas Adams of Better Futures Minnesota runs a social enterprise that has trained and employed 150 former incarcerates over the last three years. Better Futures generated $5 million in revenue from deconstructing houses, recycling and selling 70 tons of building materials that once were landfilled. Yet, the organization has yet to see a significant uptick in the pace of hiring since Minnesota law was changed to no longer require job applicants to check a box if they are a former prison inmate.

Adams said 70 percent of his trainees were in prison because of drug dependency or sales.

“Sixty percent of the men we serve in Hennepin County without intervention go back to prison within six months,” Adams said.

Better Futures employs a two-year model involving training, support and employment, including housing, personal health and mentor coaching.

“When they leave us, in as little as eight months, they have a work history and certifications in forklift operation, construction safety, janitorial-custodial, hazardous-material removal, other certifications,” he said.

Those jobs pay $16 to $18 an hour, but criminal convictions mean they usually have to start out in food service or light manufacturing, where pay is more like $10.50 an hour.

“We try to keep them motivated that the change they recognize in themselves [will eventually be recognized and rewarded by employers]. For us, success is even the guy who gets a full-time job making $11 or $12 an hour and who can pay the rent on time.

“We want to help them not be dependent on somebody else or the correction system, but to be self-sufficient.”

Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist and reporter since 1984. He can be contacted at nstanthony@startribune.com.

R!SE Up: Learn New Skills, Become More Marketable!

Evan found out about Twin Cities R!SE when he was at the Minneapolis Workforce Center looking for work.

“A recruiter there gave me the flyer, the brochure, the pamphlet, everything. He told me that TCR could help me get a job and help me develop the skills that I needed. The rest is history. I showed up thinking, I can get a lot out of this place. I am young, my experience level is kind of low. ”

"Here at TCR I am getting help and becoming connected to employers and internships, so that I can gain more experience and become more marketable."

Tell me about the classes at TCR:

“I like the variety. It’s not the same thing every day. It’s always something different. You can do five different things in one field, and it goes on from there. I like that it is not intimidating.

What’s it like having a career coach?

“He’s really cool. Having a coach is almost like having a mentor. It’s someone who can be over your shoulder giving you support and he is always there for you.”

“Twin Cities R!SE is helping me make job connections, network better, and develop my skills.”

Evan is currently working with Twin Cities R!SE as an intern the IT department.

R!SE UP: Ready for a change!


Sherry came to Twin Cities R!SE because she was ready for a change and wanted to increase her career skills with a new baby on the way!

“Here I’ve learned a lot of stuff that I am capable of doing, things that I didn’t know I was capable of doing before.” “And through Empowerment, I learned how to be more of myself rather than trying to follow someone else’s footsteps.”


Sherry has a customer service background and would like to start a career in a hospital or clinic. “I like helping, and I want to be out there helping people.”