Imagine this scenario. You’re in need of a new job. As you start filling and sending out applications, there isn’t much you’re sure of—what they’re looking for, how you might fit into the company, or whether they’re going to call you in for an interview. But the one thing you are sure of? They’re going to run a background check.
For the 70 million Americans who have a criminal record, that can be a scary thing. While most know their record will probably show up on a background check, many have no idea what that actually looks like, what rights they have, what to do if their application is rejected due to that record, and what resources are available to help them navigate the background check process.
Early on, we realized that background checks—and the mystery surrounding them—were a big barrier to employment for re-entry candidates. We knew we had to do something to better understand this problem, and more importantly, we had to be a part of the solution. And that’s how Bounce Back was born. Bounce Back is a volunteer-based committee within Checkr whose goal is to break down barriers and build opportunities for candidates facing employment struggles as a result of a prior record. We believe everyone, regardless of their background or history, deserves a fair chance to work—and at Bounce Back, we’re on a mission to create that fair chance.
Here are a few ways we’re acting on that mission:
We’re using re-entry simulations to change hearts and minds. It’s one thing to get people to consider hiring people with criminal records, it’s another to turn them into advocates for fairer practices. At Bounce Back, we’re taking steps to help companies and individuals to change the way they think about the formerly incarcerated.
One way we accomplish that is through reentry simulations. These simulations are a way to immerse participants into the struggles and challenges faced by individuals who are transitioning from incarceration back into society. Participants are given a reentry profile, which includes name, criminal record, and available funds. They’re then tasked with using this profile to navigate parts of the reentry process, from securing housing to finding employment.
As participants quickly realize, these simulations are eye-opening. Walking in the shoes of someone leaving prison doesn’t just build empathy, it sheds light on just how challenging—and demoralizing—re-entry actually is. Once you’ve gone through one of these simulations, it’s much harder to feel disconnected from this large population of people. In most cases, we find that participants are motivated and driven to make a difference.
We’re helping make background checks more accessible and transparent. Background checks can often be a black box, and at Bounce Back, we’re working to make them more accessible and easy to understand. One of the ways we do this is through Better Future, a free background check for consumers. Better Future aims to change the way candidates’ view background checks by giving them access to the information that goes out to employers. Rather than going into the process blind, they can get a clear view into their history and take steps to correct any inaccuracies before they apply or interview for a job.
We’re building a network of partners and resources for applicants. The background check is one piece of helping someone navigate the world of employment. But it’s not all candidates need to secure the employment opportunities they deserve. That’s why we’ve worked with our network of partners to build a set of resources, which allow candidates to connect with the resources they need to navigate the entire employment process, from better understanding the background check process, to getting legal aid or advice, and applying for job readiness training or employment support.
We’ve only scratched the surface. We’re proud of all the progress we’ve made and the support we’ve provided, but there’s still so much more to be done. We need to change the way we view people with criminal records and make it easier for them to get the opportunities they need to flourish in society. It’s our hope that Bounce Back will be a catalyst for that change—change within our team, organizations we work with, our communities, and at the national level.
With every barrier we break, every opportunity we build, and every candidate we help to find employment and become successful, thriving members of their own communities, we’re one step closer to that change.