Innovative Programs

Center for Employment Opportunities

Mission/Goal of Program

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) began as a demonstration project of the Vera Institute of Justice in the 1970s to address employment barriers facing individuals after their release from incarceration. In 1996, CEO became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, providing comprehensive employment services to people newly released from New York State prisons and detention facilities. CEO operates in 22 cities across eight states and have made more than 30,000 placements into full-time employment for individuals who were formerly incarcerated.

Programs/Services Offered

To offer work experience, CEO operates transitional work crews that provide supplemental indoor/outdoor maintenance and neighborhood beautification services to more than 40 customers across the U.S. CEO guarantees every participant who completes a one-week job-readiness orientation up to four days a week of transitional work on a crew and daily pay. In addition to work and daily pay, CEO provides a robust set of wraparound vocational support services: on days participants are not working, they receive job coaching to find full-time employment.

  • Job-Readiness Training: prepare people for success in the workplace
  • Transitional Employment: provide immediate paid work experience
  • Job Coaching & Placement: connect talented employees with quality employers
  • Retention Services: provide ongoing support to ensure our participants succeed

CEO's program was independently evaluated by the US Department of Health and Human Services, which found that for individuals recently released from incarceration, participation in CEO resulted in lower rates on all measures of recidivism, including arrests, convictions and returns to jail or prison. Convictions of a crime fell by over 22 percent and re-incarceration for a new crime fell over 26 percent.

Start Date
Monday, January 1, 1996
Type of Agency/Organization
Community-based Organization
New York
New York
North Carolina
Geographic Reach
Clientele/Population Served
100 Percent Former offenders
Job Readiness
Special Populations
Incarcerated and Individuals with a Criminal Record