The Checkr Foundation, the philanthropic arm of HR technology company Checkr, announces awards to organizations building a fairer future of work by supporting justice-impacted individuals
San Francisco, Dec. 28, 2023 – The Checkr Foundation, the philanthropic arm of HR technology company Checkr, today awarded grants to two organizations building a fairer future of work by helping justice-impacted individuals secure meaningful and life-sustaining careers. Justice Through Code and Defy Ventures, which each received $25,000 grants, help individuals with arrest records learn new skills and access livable wage careers and economic mobility, either through entrepreneurship or professional careers.
“Both grantees are doing work that doesn’t just change people’s lives, it desegregates opportunity for people who have been historically discriminated against, and I couldn’t be prouder to support the work Justice Through Code and Defy Ventures are doing,” said Ken Oliver, Checkr VP of Corporate Social Responsibility and Executive Director of the Checkr Foundation. “No one sits in prison and says ‘I want to commit a crime and come back to prison when I get out.’ But we live in a society where a conviction or even an arrest can give someone a scarlet letter that can keep them from accessing a livable wage job, dignified housing, or even an education after they’ve paid their debt. These programs are tackling those systemic issues, and I can’t underestimate their transformative power.”
Justice Through Code runs career accelerators that take fellows from their first job to careers earning in excess of $100,000 a year through a series of three programs over two years. Defy Ventures provides career readiness programs, personal development, and entrepreneurship training programs in prison and in the community.
“Defy Ventures is thankful for The Checkr Foundation’s investment in our shared vision for a society where opportunities are extended to all, regardless of past setbacks,” said Dawna Williams, Executive Director of Defy Ventures. “This support empowers Defy Ventures to amplify efforts, fostering opportunities for redemption and inclusion for those seeking to rebuild their lives.”
One in three working-age Americans, or 80 million people, have an arrest or conviction record. Any record of contact with the legal system, whether a charge, an arrest, or a conviction, is often enough to keep this huge swath of people from accessing liveable wage employment, economic mobility, and life-sustaining services like housing, education, and occupational licensing.
An analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative found that the unemployment rate for those with a felony conviction record in the U.S. is over 27%. This problem will only continue to grow, with the number of people with an arrest or conviction record projected to reach 100 million by 2030.
“Creating pathways to careers and business ownership reduces recidivism, strengthens communities, and bolsters economies,” Oliver said. “Democratizing access to livable wage work and economic mobility, and dismantling barriers that hold back talented individuals, helps the impacted individual and their family, injects economic vitality to their community, and lessens the burden on taxpayers when the recidivism rate declines because of it. Programs like these benefit everyone.”
About the Checkr Foundation
The Checkr Foundation’s mission is to Build a Fairer Future of Work: One Job at a Time through Fair Chance education, thought leadership and advocacy for people adversely impacted by the justice system — activating opportunities to transform lives, strengthen communities, and drive economic growth. It is the philanthropy driven corporate foundation of Checkr, Inc., a human resources technology company.