Challenge 4: LockedIn

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How can former inmates – who
have little education, few skills and a limited network – obtain employment?
LockedIn bridges the gap.

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LockedIn is a networking
platform modeled on LinkedIn that facilitates sustained vocational education
and training for ex-convicts. The platform connects users with employers,
provides online mentoring services and offers videos and modules to prepare
users for the workplace.

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LockedIn is founded on the
need to help ex-convicts find jobs and break out of the cycle of recidivism.
Although recidivism is reduced when former inmates are able to enter the
workforce, there is a substantial number of barriers that prevent them from
doing so. Approximately 70 percent of ex-convicts are high school dropouts,
which means limited education, skills and networks. Employers are also
uninformed – “a 2002 study of more than 200 employers in the Milwaukee area
found that formerly incarcerated candidates with nearly identical professional
experience as non-offenders were less than half as likely to receive job
offers”. Only 12.5 percent of employers are willing to accept applications from
ex-offenders, which means that ex-convicts can barely get a foot through the
door.

Our idea seeks to break down
this wall between ex-convicts and employers. When users first join, they
complete a questionnaire that gauges their existing skillsets, interests and
future goals. Users are divided into two groups: Group 1, which already
possesses adequate skills to be matched with employers; and Group 2, which is
not yet able to enter the workplace (note: this is behind-the-scenes work done
by the platform algorithm. Users will not be notified of the group in which
they are placed). Users in Group 1 are immediately matched with employers and
given suggested modules and tutorials to work on based on their goals. Users in
Group 2 are given required training and certification modules to complete
before they can be matched with employers. Modules include training for resume
writing, mock interviews, workplace etiquette and soft skill development. Once
the requirements are completed, the lock on these users’ profiles is removed
and users are able to be matched with employers. Users in both groups also have
the opportunity to work with a LockedIn mentor online, who will guide the user
through the platform and assist them with their personal goals and questions.

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Employers range from blue to
white collar jobs to accommodate users’ varying levels of skillsets. To protect
employers and reduce “negligent hiring”, LockedIn is connected to criminal
record databases, which allows employers to conduct background checks and
assess the nature of a user’s crimes.

Similar to LinkedIn, LockedIn
lets users set up a profile and virtual resume. Locked also has an Endorsements
feature, which allows parole officers, former employers and LockedIn mentors to
“endorse” users and write reviews. This social acceptance/rejection motivator
keeps users on guard and compels them to make a good impression and perform
well in LockedIn modules. Finishing modules increases users to higher “Levels”
and the number of modules completed show up on users’ profiles, which motivates
them to expand their skillsets.

Below is a visual timeline of
how LockedIn could potentially change the course of an ex-convict’s life after
his release:

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Sources:

https://socialwork.simmons.edu/blog/Prisoner-Reentry/

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/business/in-search-of-the-felon-friendly-workplace.html?_r=0

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