This nonprofit teaches former felons digital media to boost job prospects

Each year, around 8,500 people in New York City are released from prison, more than half of which are rearrested within three years. Of those who have jobs a year after release, the recidivism rate drops to 31 percent.

The problem, however, is that for someone who’s just gotten out of prison, getting a job is nearly impossible. This is both because of the bias of hiring managers and because former convicts rarely have any work experience that will land them anything else other than a low-paying job.

In an effort to significantly boost their employability, a new non-profit called Second Chance Studios is offering formerly incarcerated fellows the opportunity to ramp up their digital media skills and eventually land a job within the industry.

“We have a lot of formerly incarcerated people coming out of the system just getting manual labor jobs and not having the opportunity to do anything digitally,” says cofounder Coss Marte, who was formerly incarcerated himself.

Second Chance Studios will employ 12 formerly incarcerated fellows in its yearlong, New York-based program, which offers experience in producing videos, podcasts, and other digital media for customers. The nonprofit will also help place them in well-paid jobs by the end of the program or help them launch their own companies.

The goal is to help avoid the cycle of people who are released from prison ending up incarcerated again. “Especially at this time, with the national conversation going on, it’s really important for people to find creative solutions to public safety that go beyond arresting people,” says Second Chance Studios cofounder Ravi Gupta.

The renewed focus on inequality means that those who go through the program, many of whom are people of color, may now have a better chance of finding a job.

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