Jay- Z, Roc Nation & Reform Alliance Bringing Employers to Interview Formerly Incarcerated & Single Moms at NYC Job Fair Thursday

How do you work to prevent formerly incarcerated individuals from reoffending? Jay-Z, Roc Nation and criminal justice advocacy organization, the Reform Alliance, believe that creating economic opportunity is one way.

Tomorrow, thousands of unemployed New Yorkers, including formerly incarcerated individuals, single parents and veterans, will meet hundreds of employers at a special New York City Job Fair, hosted by Roc Nation & Reform, at Madison Square Garden.

Corporations such as Amazon, Amtrak, Delta, Foot Locker, Live Nation, the National Football League, the New York Yankees, the New York Islanders and UBS Arena, Warner Music Group, and Puma are among some of the hundreds of organizations who will be interviewing candidates on site. You can view the full list of participating organizations here.

Data from the NAACP shows that unemployment is the greatest predictor of recidivism, and the vast majority of formerly incarcerated individuals are still unemployed a year after release. Unemployment is a civil rights issue, according to organizations like Reform.

One of the barriers to receiving an interview callback for all incarcerated individuals, regardless of race, is a “check box” on hiring applications which asks if applicants have a criminal record. Applicants who check this box are as much as 50% less likely to get a callback for a job.

“After incarceration, finding a job can be an uphill battle,” said Robert Rooks, CEO of REFORM Alliance. “Jobs are a fundamental part of reentering society with dignity.”

In addition to having so many high-profile employers on site, the Team Rock New York Job Fair will feature resources and career development support aimed at addressing some of the barriers to securing employment, including: Resumé building support and interview preparation, haircut, styling, and grooming services, Expungement aid to address the barrier of the “check box” on employment applications and bias during the application process, access to professional attire, motivational & educational speeches from special celebrity guests.

In the United States, over two million individuals are in prison, with 95% eventually released back into their local communities. Upon release, incarcerated individuals face widespread employment discrimination.

Black men and women face disproportionately greater unemployment rates than White men and women upon release from prison. Several studies have illustrated how White men with criminal records are more likely to get called back for interviews than Black men with no criminal records.

Social stigma, racial discrimination and structural inequality are just some of many obstacles along the path of reentry into the workforce for the formerly incarcerated.

“The Team Roc New York Job Fair is a real opportunity for socio-economic mobility for New Yorkers – those who want to work, yet have not had the exposure or connections to the right-fit jobs, or to the support services that can strengthen their prospects for employment,” Team Roc managing director Dania Diaz said. 

In New York State, the unemployment rate as of September of this year was the third highest in the nation and more than double the national unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of 27%, way higher than the national average.

Aside from the former prison population, single mothers make up the greatest decline in employment compared to mothers in households with another working adult. Black single mothers continue to face the greatest percentage of unemployment among all single mothers by race and ethnicity.

“With this job fair, we hope to remove barriers to work and create economic opportunity for individuals and their families. We want to help people overcome economic hardship, and employers are looking for people to fill jobs,” said Robert Rooks, CEO of REFORM Alliance. 

The Team Roc New York Job Fair is “a chance for us to work together – public, private, nonprofit sectors – to address the state’s labor shortages in a meaningful way,” Team Roc managing director Dania Diaz said.

As Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez perfectly states, “My hope is this event will not only stimulate New York’s economy but pair the state’s best and brightest employees with the country’s leading organizations.”

The Reform Alliance, a nonprofit organization, is the only criminal justice organization which focuses solely on probation and parole reform. Reform works hand in hand with twenty-three-time GRAMMY award-winner, former part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets and founder of Roc Nation, Shawn “JAY Z” Carter, who is dedicated to giving back to the community and helping individuals face socio-economic hardships.

To register for the Team Roc New York Jobs Fair, click here.

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