A Successful Prisoner Reentry Program Expands: Lessons from the Replication of the Center for Employment Opportunities

Center for Employment Opportunities
Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is a transitional jobs programs for former prisoners. The program offers participants temporary, paid jobs, along with employment counseling and other services, to make them more employable and prevent their return to prison.

This study describes how the model was replicated in other locations, assesses its implementation in various contexts, and reports on findings from a qualitative study of participants’ perceptions of and experiences in the CEO program. 

This report’s findings include:

  • Overall, the replication programs operated with high fidelity to the original program model.
  • Participants in replication programs engaged in CEO activities at similar rates as did participants in New York City, although replication programs did a better job of moving participants through the model’s early stages and into working with the staff to obtain unsubsidized employment.
  • Participants said that the program’s most essential and distinctive elements were its structure and the support of its staff members.
  • While CEO work crews offered some opportunities for skills training, they functioned primarily as jobs, with the habits and competencies that make for a good employee emphasized through the routine of reporting for work each day, cooperating with colleagues, and following supervisors’ directions.
CNCS Program(s): 
Social Innovation Fund
CNCS Focus Area(s): 
Economic Opportunity
Age(s) Studied: 
26-55 (Adult)
Outcomes Category(s): 
Study Type(s): 
Study Design(s): 
Level of Evidence: 
Year Published: 
Date Posted Online: 
March 13, 2018
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