Accelerating Fair Chance Hiring among Los Angeles Employers

With support from the State of California Workforce Accelerator program, the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation partnered with LeadersUp, a national nonprofit focused on ending the youth unemployment crisis, to launch the Accelerating Fair Chance Project during the Spring of 2019. The goal of this project was to address unemployment among young people who have been involved in the justice system by identifying employer-led solutions. Through leveraging the expertise of employers and adapting the Design Thinking Model, this project offers a case study for how to engage employers in an iterative, collaborative process to reimagine new hiring structures that expand employment opportunities for justice-involved individuals.

This report presents the findings from the Fair Chance project’s survey, innovation lab sessions, and employer engagement conducted in 2019 and 2020, highlighting both current opportunities and challenges that employers face to expand employment opportunities for justice-involved individuals. As part of this project, we also established an Employer Framework for corporations to identify and develop Fair Chance hiring strategies that align with their unique structures and needs.

Photo Credit: iStock/eggeeggjiew


Key Findings from this project are based on the survey, innovation lab sessions, and employer engagement conducted in 2019 and 2020.

  • Despite various Fair Chance hiring laws and employer support for the concept of hiring justice-involved youth, inclusive hiring practices are not yet widely adopted.
  • Hiring opportunities for justice-involved youth are further limited by compounding issues such as widespread stigma, skill-matching, and employer education on the nature of justice-involvement.
  • Hiring practices, including outreach and interviewing, vary widely depending on the company. Any intervention should consider these differences and be tailored to meet the specific company’s unique structure.
  • Adopting a Design Thinking approach can help leverage employer expertise and identify new hiring strategies to include justice-involved youth in talent acquisition processes.

Read the Report


The Employer Framework offers a guide for employers to evaluate and adapt their hiring practices and to strategize on potential inclusive talent solutions.

This Framework is based on the Design Thinking method and our project findings, and was developed with the goal of accelerating employment opportunities for justice-involved youth. As current events reveal longstanding racial inequities in the market and corporations risk losing access to the next generation of diverse talent, this framework is intended to assist employers in:

  • Examining current diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) approaches and opportunities to expand their impact by investing in inclusive talent solutions and hiring strategies;
  • Leveraging institutional expertise to develop a core set of actionable recommendations focused on driving anti-racist hiring strategies while driving bottom-line impact; and
  • Creating a design thinking strategy that secures buy-in from front-line recruiters, managers, and C-suite executives.

Read the Employer Framework



READ: Policy Brief: U.S. Fair Chance Legislation

READ: Literature Review: Fair Chance Policy Impacts


Victoria Ciudad-Real
Project Specialist, USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation

John Roberson III
Chief of Staff, LeadersUp

Caroline Bhalla
Managing Director, USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation

Gary Painter headshot

Gary Painter
Director, Homelessness Policy Research Institute

Jeffery Wallace
President and CEO, LeadersUp
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We also extend a special thanks to USC Price Center graduate Research Assistants Juliana Vidal and Kalen Cornelious.


With support from the California Workforce Development Board, the Price Center and LeadersUp are partnering with Los Angeles Employers to research employment strategies for precariously housed individuals. Learn more about the project here.

Accelerating Employment Retention Strategies for the Precariously Housed



LeadersUp is a talent development accelerator and social enterprise that was founded to tackle high youth unemployment in America. Since 2013, they have stood in the gap to bridge the divide between the untapped potential of at-risk young adults of color and the business challenge of finding and keeping the best talent. The organization also focuses on diverse young adults because they are the most adversely impacted by distress in the labor market, particularly during COVID-19. Through their advocacy and professional development tools, LeadersUp is helping employers transform their diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into highly inclusive business practices.

This partnership is made possible through generous funding from the State of California Workforce Accelerator program.

Stay Informed

If you would like to receive updates about our Fair Chance hiring work, please subscribe to our Newsletter in the footer below.  If you have questions about this partnership, please contact Megan Goulding, Director of External Relations at [email protected].