Simply hiring people with a background isn’t enough. We’ll help you take the next steps to ensure a win-win-win for individuals, society as a whole—and your company.

The cost of recidivism to taxpayers is enormous. Reducing the overall recidivism rate by just 1 percentage point means Illinois would see nearly 600 fewer convictions and save more than $90 million over nine years. Certainly, employment is a major factor in allowing individuals to avoid the revolving door back into prison and successfully reintegrate into society, and companies that commit to hiring from the labor pool of formerly incarcerated individuals are doing a service to those individuals and to society as a whole.

Breaking the
Chains of Incarceration

Hiring people with a background is also in companies’ own best interest. Formerly incarcerated individuals can fill labor shortages in high-demand fields, and they tend to reward companies that have taken a chance on them with increased loyalty and lower turnover rates.

However, simply giving people a job isn’t enough. Re-entrance into the workforce after a prolonged absence presents a series of challenges, including an outdated skill set, the emergency of new industries, and evolving technologies. In addition, many individuals leave jail or prison lacking essential life skills, financial literacy, and employment readiness, making it less likely that they will succeed over the long term.

In Illinois alone, recidivism will cost taxpayers a projected $13.5 billion over the next five years. [1]A major factor in reducing recidivism is access to jobs that pay a living wage and provide benefits – yet 75 percent of those who are formerly incarcerated do not have a job within one year of their release.[2]

A labor shortage exists in various industries, impacting companies’ sustainability and acting as a drain on the economy. Meanwhile, the state and federal prison systems return 600,000 individuals to society every year who represent readily available talent.

People with a background are more loyal employees: According to a recent study by the ACLU, individuals who were previously incarcerated have a 12-14 percent lower turnover rate compared to other sources of candidates.[3]

Team of mechanics working on a car discuss a problem in an auto repair shop

Our Approach

Helping Individuals Help Themselves

That’s where we come in. 2nd Opportunity provides the skills training that helps individuals reintegrate into society and acclimate to employment scenarios. This work includes skill building in communications, conflict resolution, trauma-induced behavior, financial literacy, and goal setting. The work is performed both during incarceration and upon release and includes ongoing peer support and mentoring. Companies looking to hire people with a background can work with us to provide this training to their candidates.

Standard Program Offerings

We recommend that participants take our three courses in the sequence presented below. Here’s an overview of our offerings:

A Path Forward©

A program designed for anyone seeking a fresh start, including individuals faced with rebuilding their lives as they work to overcome an addiction, people looking to move on following a divorce or death, and those who are simply struggling to get traction in their lives. The most comprehensive of our three courses, A Path Forward© includes two hours of video instruction, a 42-page workbook, and activities and quizzes to reinforce the material covered.

The program presenter will guide participants through:

  • Examining trauma and its impact on their behavior
  • Understanding the essential concepts and challenges of starting over
  • Defining what success means to you and what really matters in your life 
  • Crafting their story and talking about their job history on interviews
  • Being part of a team and dealing with workplace conflict
  • And much more

A Path to Financial Freedom©

A program designed to teach participants the fundamentals of finance needed to function in today’s world. The course includes over 90 hours of video instruction, a 23-page workbook, and activities and quizzes to ensure participants are absorbing the material.

Basic skills covered include:

  • Budgeting
  • Operating a checking account
  • Paying taxes
  • Applying for financial aid
  • Filling out employment forms
  • Establishing credit
  • And much more

Values-Aligned Goal Setting©

An interactive workshop designed to help people reevaluate and rebuild following incarceration. Participants will have access to two hours of video instruction, a 35-page workbook, and quizzes, activities and goal-setting worksheets that participants can refer back to as they progress through their career and life goals.

Throughout the course, individuals will learn how to:

  • Determine their values
  • Set “bedrock” and “building” goals
  • Identify potential obstacles to reintegrating into society
  • Develop and pursue a meaningful career path
  • And much more

Customized Programs

In addition to our standard courses, we have and will continue to customize our programs to meet employers’ needs. Our four methods of delivery – in person, via WebEx or Zoom, online, and via tablet – allow us to adapt to the situation and bring the greatest value and impact to program participants. We also provide support to hiring firms through management workshops and onboarding assistance to make the experience of hiring from this population positive and beneficial.

Dedicated Support Network

We know firsthand that resources and support are essential to overcoming the challenges of re-entry and rebuilding, which is why enrollment in our programming also includes:


Referrals for employment, housing, substance abuse counseling, and other essential support services.


Skills development courses, lectures and webinars.

Support Groups

Virtual and In-person peer-to-peer meetings and connections.


One-on-one mentoring for those who need additional support.

Get Started

Contact us to learn how we can help you every step of the way, from identifying candidates, to shepherding them through the hiring, onboarding, and training process, to managing them as valued employees. Email us or call us at 847-257-2713 to start the conversation.

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1.“Caruso, Vincent. “Report: Recidivism to Cost Illinois More Than $13B Over Next 5 Years.” Illinois Policy, 3 August 2018, www.illinoispolicy.org/report-recidivism-to-cost-illinois-more-than-13b-over-next-5-years/.

2. Lo, Kenny, and Amaning, Akua, the CAP Poverty Team. “Update to ‘News You Can Use: Research Roundup for Re-Entry Advocates.’” Center for American Progress, 25 June 2020, www.americanprogress.org/issues/criminal-justice/news/2020/06/25/486864/update-news-can-use-research-roundup-re-entry-advocates/.

3. “Back to Business: How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Jobseekers Benefits Your Company.” The Trone Private Sector and Education Advisory Council to the American Civil Liberties Union, June 2017, www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/060917-trone-reportweb_0.pdf.