ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP)

The ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP) at Columbia Business School trains MBA students to deliver business training to incarcerated individuals, develops tools for potential employers, and creates forums for new relationships to shape a solutions-focused dialog around post-incarceration employment.

About the ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP)

The ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP) focuses on improving employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people (FIPs) and people with a criminal record. Through a partnership between the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and the Center for Justice at Columbia University, the program consists of two initiatives that are designed to complement one another by educating incarcerated individuals, future business leaders (MBA students), and potential employers:

Delivering Business Training to Incarcerated Persons
Based on the pioneering work by Professor Greg Fairchild, ’02BUS/PhD, at the University of Virginia, MBA students will be trained to teach incarcerated students inside of prisons. Leveraging the academic expertise at Columbia Business School, and in partnership with Resilience Education, Hour Children, and local facilities, we plan to deliver a three-course curriculum covering financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, problem-solving and consensus building. This initiative is intended to provide valuable training to incarcerated persons, and to change the perspectives of the MBA students who teach these courses, around talent and hiring of FIPs.

ReEntry Business Forums for Employers
These Business Forums develop a network of businesses, reentry organizations, investors, and policy makers to develop a business case for hiring FIPs and people with criminal records. We also develop materials that highlight effective practices and address practical challenges employers may face when they consider hiring from this talent pool. Our goal is to engage 200 businesses to provide 2,000 FIPs with career-track jobs that lead to financial independence by 2020.

Participating organizations include:

  • Autodesk
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • Drive Change
  • Fresh Direct
  • Hour Children
  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • JustLeadershipUSA
  • M.A.D.E Transitional Services
  • NationSwell
  • Partnership for New York City
  • Pigeonly
  • Refoundry
  • Resilience Education
  • SHRM Foundation
  • SkillSmart
  • The Fortune Society
  • The Marshall Project
  • The Osborne Association
  • The Trone Center for Justice and Equality
  • Wash Cycle Laundry
  • American Prison Data Systems
  • Beck Institute
  • Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation
  • Brooklyn Workforce Innovations
  • Bureau of Justice Assistance
  • Center for Employment Opportunities
  • Center for Justice
  • Columbia University
  • Community Service Society of NY
  • Entertainment Partners
  • FedCap
  • Getting Out and Staying Out
  • Greyston
  • Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
  • Katal Center for Health Equity and Justice
  • Malta Justice Initiative
  • Mayor's Office of Workforce Development
  • MindOpen Learning Strategies
  • National H.I.R.E. Network
  • National Workrights Institute
  • Neighborhood Benches
  • Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • NYC Center for Youth Employment
  • Per Scholas
  • Petey Greene Program
  • Phipps Neighborhoods
  • Second U Foundation
  • Shake Shack
  • Solutions Journalism Network
  • Strive International
  • The Council of State Governments Justice Center
  • The Doe Fund
  • The HOPE Program
  • Thicket Labs
  • WhenPeopleWork
  • Women's Prison Association
  • Year Up
  • Youth Represent
  • Zebra Strategies

Delivering Business Training

In the fall and spring semesters, Columbia MBA and Executive MBA students will have the opportunity to learn about mass incarceration and teach a three-course curriculum covering financial empowerment, entrepreneurship, and negotiations at a local prison facility. B8584 REAP: Reforming Mass Incarceration and the Role of Business and B8580 REAP Immersion elective courses, provide selected students with a perspective and context, teaching training, curricular materials, assistance with transport arrangements, and other logistical support.

A joint initiative with Resilience Education and Hour Children

This reentry education initiative is being jointly offered by Resilience Education, Hour Children, and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School.

  • Resilience Education is a nonprofit organization that partners with business schools to provide high-quality business curricula for incarcerated and recently released individuals. Their courses have been successfully taught in juvenile, state and federal correctional facilities in Virginia by MBA students and alumni from University of Virginia’s Darden Business School since 2011.
  • Hour Children is a non-sectarian, nonprofit agency that provides prison- and community-based services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their families. Their deep knowledge and experience in delivering programs inside state prisons and city jails, as well as hosting workshops for women at their Long Island City location, provided valuable feedback in the development of this initiative.

This unique partnership with REAP at Columbia Business School aims to increase post-incarceration employment opportunities which significantly increases the chances of successful reentry and a stable and productive future. In addition, Columbia's Center for Justice, the Heyman Center for the Humanities as well faculty from Columbia Law School who have been teaching courses in New York facilities, have also provided valuable advice for this initiative.

Taconic Correctional Facility is a medium security women’s prison in Bedford Hills, NY, and will be the first site for these courses.

Course Application Process

An invitation to apply for the B8584 and B8580 courses is sent out in April and the spring B8580 course is sent out in November by email to MBA and EMBA students. Selected students will be required to be approved by the facility and Department of Corrections and attend a mandatory volunteers training provided by the facility.

About REAP Business Forums

REAP Business Forums are composed of employers and potential employers, together with reentry organizations, and are aimed at developing strategies to improve hiring opportunities for formerly incarcerated people (FIPs) and people with a criminal record. These forums provide support and training to businesses and organizations by sharing insights on effective practices with a broader range of employers than has traditionally been reached.

REAP seeks to build a scalable model of civically-engaged businesses and employers, reentry organizations, academic institutions, and others that work in concert to provide career-track employment for this talent pool that:

  • provides businesses wider access to the skills, productivity, and employment retention benefits of hiring from this employment pool as well as the financial incentives that are available;
  • breaks down negative perceptions and other barriers to employment;
  • reduces the recidivism rate through building long-term financial independence;
  • fosters economic development in underserved communities; and
  • builds the tax base through increased employment, wages, and profits.

Forum conveners:

Damon J. Phillips, Co-director, the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise
Toney Earl, Founder and Executive Director, M.A.D.E Transitional Services

Connect with us on LinkedIn

Mission of the Business Association

To enlist 200 businesses to provide 2,000 FIPs with career-track jobs that lead to financial independence by 2020.

Business Forum Breakfast Series and Working Groups

The Business Forum breakfast series provides an opportunity for Working Groups to develop strategies for helping employers find skilled workers who may have a criminal history and resources that will support their decision to hire a formerly incarcerated candidate. Topics include:

1. Hospitals and healthcare career pathways
2. Expanding computer & tech sector employment
3. Employers & FIPs narratives, strategies, & data: Marketing success
4. Knowledge & learning
5. Building the business case

If you are interested in a specific industry sector (or initiating a new sector working group), please contact Hannah Slow.

Upcoming Events

Monday, November 26, 2018
REAP Business Forum Breakfast: Hospital and healthcare career pathways

Past Events

Tuesday, May 22 — Making Hiring FIPs a Way of Doing Business: A Framework for Employers that Works
View presentation
Yariela Kerr-Donovan, Senior Director at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health Systems
September 26, 2017 — Innovations in Employment: The Business Case for Hiring the Formerly Incarcerated
Vice MediaUber, and Buddha Booth, to discuss what motivates businesses to engage formerly incarcerated people, the potential resistance they face, and how to make the business case to boards, employees and customers.
June 29, 2017 — Business Association Breakfast
View presentation
Megan French-Marcelin, Policy Research Manager of the ACLU
Roberta Meyers, Director of National H.I.R.E. Network (Legal Action Center)
April 26, 2017 — Business Association Breakfast
View presentation
Koby Rotstein, Director of Business Development of Year Up
Lynn Allen, Technical Evangelist of Autodesk
March 1, 2017 — Business Association Breakfast
Mike Brady, President & CEO of Greyston Bakery
Tariq Greene, Deputy Director of M.A.D.E. Transitional Services
Jordyn Lexton, Founder & Executive Director of Drive Change
Cisco Pinedo, Founder & President of Cisco Brothers & Co-founder of Refoundry
April 22, 2016 — Solutions to Post-Incarceration Employment and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Businesses and Universities
Go to website
Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Ifeoma Ajunwa, Assistant Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia; Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University
Greg Fairchild PhD '02, E. Thayer Bigelow Associate Professor of Business Administration; Institute for Business in Society Academic Director, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
Devah Pager, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, Harvard University; Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Michael Stoll, Professor of Public Policy and Urban Planning, Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Jose Zubizarreta, Assistant Professor, Decision, Risk and Operations, Columbia Business School; Affiliated Faculty with Department of Statistics, Columbia University
Bill Keller, Founding Editor-in-Chief, The Marshall Project
Lynn Allen, Technical Evangelist, Autodesk
John Dillow, Senior Product Manager, SkillSmart
Frederick Hutson, Chief Executive Officer, Pigeonly
Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO, The Partnership for New York City
Geraldine Downey, Professor of Psychology, Columbia University; Director, the Center for Justice, Columbia University
Ronald Day, Associate Vice President, Fortune Society
Paul Keefe, Supervising Attorney, New York City Commission on Human Rights
Victoria Sharp, MD, Former Director, The Spencer Cox Center for Health, St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital
Pamela Valera, Assistant Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University Medical Center

Resources for Employers

General resources
Tools and guides for hiring formerly incarcerated people (FIPs) and people with a criminal record
What is the business case for hiring from this talent pool?
What have other employers experienced when hiring from this talent pool?
How do I select a reliable background screening company?
How to Select a Reliable Background Screening Company, National Workrights Institute

Additional Information:
When Background Screens Turn Up Criminal Records, SHRM
Toolkit: Conducting Background Investigations and Reference Checks, SHRM
*SHRM membership account required
Pre-Employment Inquiries and Arrest & Conviction, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know, Federal Trade Commission
NELP - Ban the Box, National Employment Law Project
Best Practices Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring, National Hire Network, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Workrights Institute
An Employer's Guide to Compliance with New York Correction Law, Article 23-A, Frank A. Cania, M.S.Emp.L., SPHR
What are the concerns around negligent hiring?
Out of Jail and Out of Luck, Florida Law Review
Negligent Hiring and Criminal Rehabilitation, Social Science Research Network (SSRN)
What are the entrepreneurial opportunities for FIPs?


Linking People with Criminal Records to Employment in the Health Care Sector, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Closing the Skills Gap & Opening More Doors, National Hire Network

NYC's Jail Population: Who's There and Why?, New York City Independent Budget Office

Prison to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Reentry Strategy, Aspen Institute

Are Firms That Discriminate More Likely to Go Out of Business?, Sociological Science

From the Classroom to the Community, The Urban Institute and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Impact of College in a Maximum-security Prison, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Women in Prison at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility

How Effective is Correctional Education, and Where Do We Go from Here?, RAND Corporation

Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring, National Hire Network, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Workrights Institute

Mentoring as a Component of ReEntry, The National ReEntry Resource Center

Criminal Background Checks: Impact on Employment and Recidivism, Urban Institute

Engaging Employers: A Sector-Based Approach to Employment for People with Criminal Records, National ReEntry Resource Center and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance


Can Businesses Help Fix the Incarceration Crisis?, Ideas & Insights

His Best Employee is an Inmate from a Prison He Didn’t Want Built, The Washington Post

Educating Prisoners Gives Them—and Their Communities—a Shot at a Better Future, The Baltimore Sun

We Are People: Resources for Humanizing Language, The Osborne Association

The Language Letter Campaign, The Nu Center for Leadership

Evaluating Job Applicants with Criminal Histories, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

How to Conduct Compliant Criminal Background Investigations, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Should You Hire Someone with a Criminal Record?, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Bakers on a Mission, Greyston Bakery

Center for Open Hiring at Greyston, Greyston Bakery

Greyston Community Programs, Greyston Bakery

To Help Ex-Offenders Get Jobs, Some States Reconsider Licenses, The Pew Charitable Trust

A College Education for Prisoners, The New York Times

Breaking the Prison Cycle through Education, Knewton

Midwestern States Share Innovative Strategies for Hiring People with Criminal Records, The Council of State Governments Justice Center

‘Orange is New Black’ Author Encourages Felon Hiring, The Detroit News

Seeing More than Orange: Organizational Respect and Positive Identity Transformation in a Prison Context, Sage Journals

Why the Ford Foundation Launched a Program for Formerly Incarcerated People—and How We Did It, The Ford Foundation

The Cost Of Jobs, WBEZ Chicago

Criminals Make Better Call Center Workers and Other Analytics Surprises, The Wall Street Journal

Should You Hire An Ex-Con?, Forbes

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Success in Hiring Ex-Offenders, Johns Hopkins Medicine

The Hidden Bearers of Mass Incarceration: Women, The Brennan Center for Justice

In Washington, New Hope for Fixing America’s Female Incarceration Problem, Vogue

Do Occupational Licenses Exacerbate the Prison-to-Poverty Pipeline?, The Regulatory Review

Why Hiring People Out of Prison Will Be Your Next Workforce Strategy, Inc.


The Outside, Episode 3: Frederick Hutson, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

The Outside, Episode 2: Patricia McCray, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

Making Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People a Way of Doing Business, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

Mass Incarceration and the Need to Increase Access to Education, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

Improving Employment Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated People, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

The Outside, Episode 1: Damon Rodriguez, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

"Unibody Fitness" and "A 2nd U Foundation" Short Documentary, Unibody Fitness and A 2nd U Foundation

Our Opportunity: An Overview of the Criminal Justice System, The Malta Justice Initiative

Second Chance Playbook, Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation

American Prisons Are Designed to Dehumanize, Chicago Ideas

Reimagining Prison: It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way, Chicago Ideas

Reimagining Prison: Musical Interlude, Chicago Ideas

Reimagining Prison: The Community Reimagines, Chicago Ideas

Prison State, PBS

Lessons in business... from prison, TED

Meet the Ex-Con Who Founded a Startup to Connect Inmates to Their Families, Vice

President Obama Delivers Remarks on Commuting Prison Sentences, The Obama White House

13TH, Ava DuVernay

Mother’s Day, The New York Times

The New American Hustle, TEDx San Quentin

The Role of Journalism and Storytelling in Criminal Justice Reform, TEDx San Quentin

How I Learned to Read—and Trade Stocks —in Prison, TEDx San Quentin

Fried Chicken Restaurant is Dishing out Second Chances, The Marshall Project

John Oliver’s Year in Criminal Justice, The Marshall Project

Prisoner Re-entry, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Because You Can, You Absolutely Should: Arte Nathan, TEDx University of Nevada

Blue Ridge Curling; Darden Prisoner ReEntry Education Program, PBS

Resilience Education 2017 Graduation Ceremony at Dillwyn Correctional Center, Virginia Corrections

Greg Fairchild Presents "The Questions That Got Me Into Prison" at Charlottesville TedX, TEDx Talks

Fairchild Featured in Documentary “SPENT: Looking for Change”, Spent: Looking for Change

How Can Society Build Skills for Inmates?, BQ Now