On February 29, 2016, the Nathan Cummings Foundation joined more than 40 other members of the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color in the “Ban the Box Philanthropy Challenge,” a pledge to adopt fair chance hiring practices. The Foundation does not ask questions about any criminal records on our application forms for potential employees, and does not otherwise require this information as part of our standard hiring practices.
In addition to NCF’s internal hiring policies, the Foundation operates the Annette Ensley Ladder of Opportunity Internship Program. Founded in 2004, this program was established to provide meaningful employment and advancement opportunities to college-age, low-income individuals and students of color, and has since become a model program other foundations have begun to emulate.
In 2013, the program was expanded to include two, year-long slots for formerly incarcerated young people. These part-time internships provide substantive work experience that results in solid skills training and improved job opportunities. NCF works with the Center for Employment Opportunity, Columbia University’s Center for Justice, Greenhope Services for Women, and other New York City-based organizations whose mission is to assist formerly incarcerated people to obtain employment. So far, this program has been an overwhelming success. NCF has also hired from its interns for full-time positions.
Ensuring that all job applicants are evaluated on their skills and qualifications, and not judged solely on past mistakes is a significant step toward an economy with more fair income distribution and greater opportunity for all.
Addressing inequality is one of NCF’s major priorities, and we believe fair hiring practices – not only through the work of our grantees, but also through our own institutional practices – is an important step in that work. Our hope is that raising awareness and modeling this approach will help eliminate systemic and structural barriers to opportunity, especially for people of color who are disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration.
To learn more, visit www.bantheboxphilanthropy.org.