NELP Applauds Foundations’ Move to ‘Ban the Box’

Leading philanthropies to adopt fair-chance hiring for people with records

Below please find a statement from Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project (NELP), regarding the Ban the Box Philanthropy Challenge announced by the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color to adopt fair-chance hiring protections that will expand employment opportunities in the foundation community for people with arrest and conviction records.

“We applaud today’s announcement  ] by the Executives’ Alliance and highly respected philanthropic leaders around the nation to reform their foundations’ hiring practices to ensure that people with arrest and conviction records can fairly compete for, and thrive in, jobs in the foundation sector. By embracing ‘ban the box’ and other fair-chance hiring protections, these foundation executives are leading by example and setting a new standard for the philanthropic community, the entire non-profit sector, and indeed all employers to follow.

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“The more than 40 foundations taking part in this unprecedented employer initiative—including the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, The California Endowment, the Rosenberg Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Sierra Health Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, as well as the Council of Foundations—are weighing in as model employers in support of the thriving ban-the-box movement, which was launched a decade ago by a group of formerly incarcerated people led by the national membership organization, All of Us or None.

“Today, fair-chance hiring policies have spread to 21 states and more than 100 localities, including several major cities—New York City, Baltimore, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Seattle—that have instituted robust fair-chance laws covering almost all employers, including private companies and the non-profit sector. Last year, President Obama gave the movement its most high-profile endorsement by taking executive action to formalize the federal government’s practice of delaying their background checks for most federal hires until the very end of the hiring process.

“The National Employment Law Project is proud to be associated with this exciting foundation initiative; we will be providing technical assistance to the foundation community on the most effective hiring practices that fully comply with strongest fair-chance hiring laws in the nation, while also emphasizing new strategies that create jobs targeting people with records. The Executives’ Alliance leaders have charted a course of action that has the potential to extend across the entire philanthropic community, while also sending a strong message to non-profit employers supported by foundation-grant funding to advance their non-profit missions.

“We take our hats off to these visionary foundation leaders for taking a bold first step to humanize and destigmatize the millions of Americans who struggle to find work because of an arrest or conviction record, and for leveraging their respected positions and resources to make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities hardest hit by the plague of over-criminalization and mass incarceration.”

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