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Checkr.org unveiling escape room style re-entry simulation at South by Southwest showing barriers the formerly incarcerated face re-entering society after prison

Checkr.org, the social impact arm of HR technology company Checkr, will be exhibiting the innovative gamified experience “Beyond the Bars” March 10-13, 2024 at South by Southwest’s Creative Industries Expo, in parallel with its “Building A Fairer Future of Work: One Job At A Time” panel on March 12 discussing the benefits of “fair chance hiring”

Feb. 28, 2024 – Checkr.org, the social impact arm of HR technology company Checkr, will unveil an innovative, escape room-inspired re-entry simulation from March 10-13 at the Creative Industries Expo at South by Southwest® (SXSW®) in Austin, Texas, that will put individuals in the shoes of people coming out of prison and show them the many barriers faced by formerly incarcerated people as they navigate re-entering society and accessing livable wage employment. The re-entry experience, structured as an escape room, will be complemented by a panel on March 12 where justice-impacted individuals, economists, and business executives will discuss the benefits of “fair chance hiring”—hiring those with arrest records—to help build more inclusive workplaces and a fairer future of work.

In the interactive simulation “Beyond the Bars,” participants will be presented with various choices related to employment, housing, parole, and more to see if they can weather the challenges and stigma that come with being justice-impacted. Beyond the Bars is the brainchild of Checkr.org’s VP of Corporate and Social Responsibility, Ken Oliver.

Oliver, alongside fellow justice-impacted individual Larry Miller, chair of the Jordan Brand at Nike, Inc. and former president of the Portland Trail Blazers; Jeffrey Korzenik, Chief Investment Strategist at Fifth Third Bank; and Genevieve Martin, Vice President of Partnerships & Innovation at The Last Mile, will hold a panel on March 12 where they’ll discuss the barriers faced by the 1 in 3 working-age Americans with an arrest or conviction record, and the transformative potential of tapping into this untapped talent pool for U.S. employers and our economy.

“The re-entry simulation and our panel aims to shed light on the power of redemption and the imperative for fair chance hiring practices in today’s workforce,” Oliver said. “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 an arrest record becomes a scarlet letter that can keep them from being able to access a livable wage job, dignified housing, or even an education after they’ve paid their debt to society. Most folks don’t understand how hard it can be to access these basic life-sustaining necessities after arrest or incarceration, and we’re reshaping the narrative to change that.”

Oliver’s personal journey informs this passionate advocacy. Having been sentenced to life in prison following a joyriding conviction, he spent nearly 24 years behind bars, including almost nine years in solitary confinement for reading a book written by a former Black Panther in the early ‘70’s. His resilience and determination led to his release in 2019, following a successful civil rights lawsuit against the state of California.

“Beyond the Bars” and the panel “Building A Fairer Future of Work: One Job At A Time” are open to badge holders attending South by Southwest.

“Beyond the Bars” will be active at Booth 329 of the Creative Industries Expo at SXSW (located at the Austin Convention Center) March 10-13, 2024 from 9am to 4pm daily.

Building A Fairer Future of Work: One Job At A Time

March 12, 2:30pm – 3:30pm CT

Austin Marriott Downtown (Waller Ballroom DEF)

 

Amid a massive labor shortage, many of the 1 in 3 working-age Americans who have an arrest  record remain locked out of the workforce. Tapping this untapped talent pool can be a game-changer for U.S. employers and our economy. In this panel, a diverse group of experts—including two who themselves navigated the hurdles of past convictions—will discuss the power and promise of “fair chance” hiring. Discover how removing barriers for talent with records can combat labor shortages, invigorate businesses and transform lives.

 

Moderated by:

  • Ken Oliver, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Checkr, Inc. and Executive Director of the Checkr Foundation

 

Panelists:

  • Larry Miller, chair of the Jordan Brand at Nike, Inc. and former president of the Portland Trail Blazers
  • Jeffrey Korzenik, Chief Investment Strategist at Fifth Third Bank
  • Genevieve Martin, Vice President of Partnerships & Innovation at The Last Mile 

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About Checkr.org

Checkr.org’s mission is to Build a Fairer Future of Work: One Job at a Time through fair chance hiring practices and record clearance for people adversely impacted by the justice system — activating opportunities to transform lives, strengthen communities, and drive economic growth. It is the social impact arm of Checkr, a human resources technology company.

 

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