Celebrating Fair Chance Month: How Checkr Is Removing Barriers to Employment

April 11, 2024
Checkr Editor

April is Second Chance Month, an idea launched in 2017 by Prison Fellowship, a nonprofit organization that supports justice impacted individuals through justice reform and reentry programming. Today, Second Chance Month is a nationwide movement acknowledged by The White House. Commemorating Second Chance month this year, President Biden’s statement declared, “America was founded on the promise of new beginnings.  During Second Chance Month, we recommit to [giving] people returning to their communities from jail or prison a fair shot at the American Dream.” 

This month is also the sixteenth anniversary of the federal Second Chance Act, which authorizes federal grants that help state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations develop programs to facilitate reentry after incarceration.

Checkr celebrates Second Chance Month, but we prefer the term “Fair Chance Month.” We believe opportunities shouldn’t be limited, and that everyone deserves a fair chance to find employment, contribute to the economy, and have a positive impact on their communities.   

Driven by our mission

Approximately 80 million Americans have an arrest or conviction history. However, prison-impacted individuals face many obstacles to employment upon reentering society–often facing unemployment rates up to 10 times the national average. These barriers not only fuel recidivism, but also cost the US GDP an estimated $78 to $87 billion annually. Fair chance hiring aims to build a better society for everyone by giving each individual an opportunity to be fairly considered for positions for which they’re qualified. Fair chance hiring is a win-win for companies and job seekers. For candidates, it offers meaningful work and an opportunity to contribute to society. For employers, it offers a wide talent pool that is frequently overlooked. 

At Checkr, fair chance hiring is our mission. We’re committed to building a fairer future by designing technology to create opportunities for all. Fair Chance Month is the ideal time to celebrate our many initiatives that empower fair hiring. 

Technology to empower fair chance hiring

Checkr’s platform is designed to empower fair, inclusive, and diverse hiring practices. Here are some available features within our platform that help employers put fair chance principles into action: 

    • Assess helps reduce bias during the adjudication process by filtering out background check results that you decide aren’t relevant to a role. Assess Lite, new for 2024 and free with every Checkr account, lets you easily set criteria for which records are relevant to a position. Add-on packages Assess Standard and Assess Premium offer even more tools to help larger or fast-growing employers optimize adjudication. 

    • Candidate Stories makes it easy for employers to request information needed to perform individualized assessments when a background check returns an arrest or conviction record. Candidates can share context around their arrest or conviction history, such as a personal statement, the circumstances of the offense, and any evidence of rehabilitation, within the Candidate Portal. 

    • The Fair Chance Dashboard helps employers measure the results of their fair chance hiring efforts. Employers can see how many justice-impacted candidates progress through their hiring funnel, compare their performance to that of other employers, and access resources for improvement.

Through the use of these features, customers can promote fairer hiring practices thus unblocking candidates who were previously ineligible due to criminal records that are irrelevant to the role. In fact, more than 1.7 million candidates have been unblocked by our fair hiring initiatives. 

Checkr Academy–our free learning hub–also launched a new module: Fair Reviewer Certificate. This hour-long module teaches HR professionals how to comply with EEOC standards when assessing background checks, best practices for implementing fair assessments, and more. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn profile and two professional development credits with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Get started.

Philanthropy to actualize our mission

In 2021, we founded Checkr.org, our 501(c)(3) Corporate Foundation, to accelerate the social impact of building a fairer future of work: one job at a time. The new Checkr.org website offers educational resources and inspiring stories from policymakers, business leaders, thought leaders, and talent with records to promote fair chance hiring.

Among these many resources, are two dynamic maps:

    • Fair Chance Law Tracker: Building on the concept of Ban the Box legislation, fair chance hiring laws go even further to level the playing field for justice-impacted candidates. The new Fair Chance Law Tracker helps employers keep up with this positive change. Use the Tracker to find out where fair chance laws are in place and see details about the regulations.   

    • Record Relief Tracker: A growing number of jurisdictions are also passing record relief laws that enable individuals to have criminal records sealed or expunged. The furthest reaching are Clean Slate laws, which automatically expunge or seal a wide variety of criminal records. Use the new Record Relief Tracker to see which states and jurisdictions have record relief laws.

At Checkr.org, we believe in the transformative power of livable wage employment to transform lives and restore communities. Our mission is rooted in the idea that everyone deserves the opportunity to work and to thrive. Through advocacy, grant making, and thought leadership, we are dedicated to dismantling the barriers to livable wage employment for those with arrest records.
Ken Oliver
Executive Director, Checkr.org

Check is also honored to have been named the 2023 Impact Award Winner by Pledge 1%, a movement that inspires businesses to be a force for good. By joining Pledge 1%, we pledged to donate 1% of employee time, 1% of product, 1% of equity, and 1% of company profits annually to advancing fairer hiring practices that support justice-impacted people in their pursuit of livable wage employment.

So far, Checkr has enabled over 1,800 people to find employment through the Candidate Stories tool and donated over $2.7 million through product investments and helping people expunge eligible criminal records.

Daniel Yanisse, co-founder and CEO of Checkr, accepting the 2023 Pledge 1% Impact Award

Checkr.org also received a 2024 Silver Anthem Award for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Hiring Initiative category. The Anthem Awards celebrate purpose-driven initiatives making a profound global impact, and we're proud to be recognized for our efforts to build a fairer future of work.

Fair chance hiring practices catalyze innovation, inclusion, and stronger bottom lines for all. Learn how Checkr.org is building a fairer future of work: one job at a time.

Events to support awareness

Our mission extends beyond the walls of our offices, as we work together with business leaders, policy makers, and mission partners across the country. Our team has been on the road to provide educational opportunities to showcase the transformative power of livable wage employment to change lives and restore communities.

South by Southwest (SXSW)

Checkr.org’s live simulation of reentry from incarceration, “Beyond the Bars,” opened the eyes of many who completed the 20-minute simulation. The in-person, gamified experience asked participants to tackle the challenges of reentry, including finding employment. Participants found the experience sobering and educational. “You are treated like a liability, like you have nothing to offer. This (experience) was 20 minutes, I can't imagine what having to live in that day to day must be like,” one participant said. Check out the recap below.

Every day, thousands of Americans reenter society after years behind bars. Over 65% find themselves rearrested within a year. You make the decisions that shape your future. Are you ready to navigate reentry?

Also at SXSW, Checkr.org Executive Director and VP of Corporate Responsibility at Checkr, Ken Oliver, participated in a panel with a diverse group of experts to discuss the power and promise of fair chance hiring. Oliver was joined by Genevieve Martin of the Last Mile, Jeffrey Korzenik of Fifth Third Bank, and Larry Miller of Nike, Inc. for “Building A Fairer Future of Work: One Job At A Time,” a conversation about the power of fair chance hiring–how removing barriers for talent with records can combat labor shortages, invigorate businesses, and transform lives.

"Building A Fairer Future of Work: One Job At A Time,” panelists: Ken Oliver, Genevieve Martin, Jeffrey Korzenik, and Larry Miller

The c-suite podcast also hosted Ken, Jeffrey, and Larry live at SXSW to recap their panel discussion, focusing on the endeavors aimed at eliminating employment barriers for the millions of Americans with prior arrests or convictions. Watch the interviews.

Writing the Code: Second Chance Hiring

Also this month, MIT Sloan School of Management brought together top business executives, policymakers, academics, students, and people with lived experience to explore the business case for fair chance hiring and how to shift the narrative about employing talent with records. This Writing the Code series, led by an EMBA student, highlighted his experience as a justice-impacted individual while amplifying the issues related to fair chance hiring and how that impacts our community of industry and academic professionals. Ken Oliver and Checkr co-founder and CEO Daniel Yanisse, along with national leaders working to reshape the business and economic landscape, attended this Checkr-sponsored event. Daniel received the “Trailblazer Award”, in recognition of him paving the way for other business leaders in adopting and advocating for Fair Chance hiring. Watch the full event.

Daniel Yanisse, co-founder and CEO of Checkr and Ken Oliver, Executive Director of Checkr.org at Writing the Code

The Business Case for Fair Chance Hiring

The number of Americans with an arrest or conviction history is predicted to climb to 100 million by 2030. This insightful panel discussion, in partnership with Indeed, along with industry leaders explored how fair chance hiring can revolutionize the way businesses source talent, provide a competitive advantage, and catalyze impact for people and communities. Hear inspiring stories, learn best practices, and contribute to building a fairer future of work: one job at a time. Watch the webinar on-demand.

Fair Chance Hiring: Don’t Lower the Bar, Lower the Barriers

Ken Oliver joined Voices of HR, an HR Morning podcast, to share his own success story and share more about the many moving success stories that show that fair chance hiring can be good for your business. “Every company has a right to hire the best person for the job. We don’t want them to lower the bar, we just want them to lower the barrier to access,” Oliver said. Listen to the episode.

Fair chance in action

Candidates unblocked by Checkr’s fair hiring initiatives
Volunteer hours logged by Checkr employees
Fair chance talent at Checkr
Retention rate of our fair chance talent

As a mission-driven company, we’re proud of our involvement in furthering our social impact:

    • Volunteerism: As part of our 1% Pledge, we’ve created a volunteering and giving program to enable every employee to help make our mission happen. In fact, we offer 20 paid Volunteer Time Off hours per year to all employees. 

    • Mission partners: Checkr supports individuals reentering society through many programs with our mission partners, including Breakthrough, The Last Mile, Defy Ventures, and more. These programs include in-person volunteering at various correctional facilities to provide coaching and tutoring, mock employment interviews, job fairs, and business pitch bootcamps.

    • Bounce Back: A Checkr Resource Group of dedicated employees volunteer their time to explore innovative ways to expand the impact of our mission. This includes engaging employees with our mission through educational and volunteer initiatives, while also working on product ideas, enhancements, and improvements to foster fairness in the Checkr platform.

    • Fair Chance Apprenticeship Program: This pilot program in our San Francisco office provides job training and formal learning programs to create career pathways for those with an arrest or conviction history. Our eight apprentices in Marketing, Sales, People, Talent, and Customer Service complete their 12-month earn and learn opportunity in June.

Checkr unlocks opportunities for you and your candidates

We believe an arrest or conviction record shouldn’t be a life sentence to unemployment. Our commitment to advancing fair chance employment through product innovation and philanthropic involvement helps employers expand their talent pools and provide new opportunities for justice-impacted individuals. We hope you will join us in building a future of work that’s fair, inclusive, and equitable for everyone.

Learn more about how we’re advancing fair chance employment through proven research, proximate leadership, and innovative tools through our foundation, Checkr.org.

Fair Chance
Hiring Hub

Explore resources, find ways to engage, and hear stories that celebrate fair chance hiring.


The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

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"Time and again, we see the fair chance talent we’ve welcomed to Checkr become highly engaged, ambitious, and successful employees."
Daniel Yanisse
Co-founder and CEO, Checkr

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