Support economic stability and mobility for people with criminal records

Updated June 15, 2021

People in the juvenile and criminal justice systems often face barriers that prevent them from accessing quality workforce development and training services that are necessary to find and secure stable employment.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides a unique opportunity with over $21 billion for states and local communities to make deliberate connections to high-growth industries for people with criminal records. These connections help create employment pathways that enable people with criminal records to succeed in the workforce. At the same time, these connections support local economic recovery by ensuring that employers have access to a robust, skilled talent pipeline. Jurisdictions can also leverage ARP resources to strengthen and expand access to quality career technical education, training programs, and other workforce supports that increase employment opportunities for people with records.

Funding Breakdown


Name  Total Amount Description Administering Agencies Eligible Entities  Distribution Mechanisms  End Date 
Funding for Public Health Workforce 


$7.6 billion  


Establish, expand, and sustain a public health workforce, including wages and benefits, related to the recruiting, hiring, and training of individuals to serve as case investigators, contact tracers, social support specialists, community health workers, public health nurses, disease intervention specialists, epidemiologists, program managers, laboratory personnel, informaticians, communication and policy experts, and any other positions as may be required to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID19. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 


State, territorial, or local public health departments or a qualified nonprofit private or public organization, particularly in medically underserved areas  Competitive  Available until expended 
Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program  


$386 million   Provide up to 12 months of retraining assistance for veterans who are unemployed due to COVID-19 and do not have other veteran education benefits. This funding covers the cost of the retraining program and provides a housing allowance for veterans while they undergo this training. 


Veterans Health Administration (VA)  Unemployed veterans between the ages of 22 and 66 


Individual awards through VA program



Jan. 31, 2023 (21 months from enactment of act) 


State Small Business Capital Initiative  $10 billion   Provide support to small businesses responding to and recovering from the economic effects of the COVID19 pandemic; ensure business enterprises owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals have access to credit and investments; provide technical assistance to help small businesses applying for various support programs; and pay reasonable costs of administering such initiative. 

  • $130 billion to local governments may also be leveraged to support small businesses 
  • $500 million to tribal governments as a separate allocation
Secretary of Treasury  Small business enterprises owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals; tribal governments or a group of tribal governments that jointly apply for an allocation  State governments to set up lowinterest loans and other investments  September 30, 2030 
Economic Development Administration (EDA) Economic Adjustment Assistance  $3 billion  Assist communities nationwide in advancing their coronavirus recovery and resiliency strategies; support a wide range of technical, planning, and public works and infrastructure assistance. Of this amount, 25 percent of funding is reserved for assistance to communities that have suffered economic injury as a result of job losses in the travel, tourism, or outdoor recreation sectors.  EDA   Assistance to regions experiencing adverse economic changes; state and local governments; institutions of higher education; nonprofit organizations  Competitive grantsGuidance will be posted to the EDA’s website.  September 30, 2022, for economic adjustment assistance funding 


September 30, 2027, for federal costs to administer assistance 

AmeriCorps and affiliated programs  $1 billion   Support for AmeriCorps to:   

  • Expand national service programming into new communities and stabilize existing AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors programs
  • Increase the AmeriCorps living allowance, making national service more accessible and inclusive
  • Increase the diversity and cultural experience of those serving in communities across the country and grow the number of AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors positions
Corporation for National and Community Service and National Service Trust  AmeriCorps Service Programs, prioritizing those that serve diverse communities or communities impacted by COVID-19  Grant allocation  September 30, 2024 

The ARP provides for an additional $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for communities to address local fiscal priorities in response to the pandemic. Learn more about how to use these funds to advance safety and justice goals in our guide. State, local, and tribal governments can request recovery funds directly through the Treasury’s website.

Key Takeaways 

1. Increase access to high-quality credential and training programs, coupled with material and social support: ARP resources can be used to support economic stability and mobility for people with criminal records by tailoring credential and workforce development programs to meet the unique needs of this population. Effective programming for people in the justice system should include work-based learning models (e.g., apprenticeships) as well as earned income, stipends, and/or other financial incentives to support engagement and program completion. Integrated employment approaches for people in the justice system should address peoples reentry needs, while also preparing them for the workforce through tailored, accelerated, and industry-specific training. These programs should be complemented by other supports, such as career counseling, coaching, and job search and placement assistance.

2. Make strategic investments in on-ramps to career pathways: States and local communities can use funding available through the ARP to create career pathways for people in the criminal justice system so they are able to take part in an inclusive economic recovery. These pathways should be tailored to provide on-ramps that ensure that people returning from incarceration have access points to make progress towards careers that provide family-sustaining wages.

3. Ensure that investments in small businesses include businesses owned and operated by people impacted by the justice system: Self-owned or operated businesses present an important opportunity for people with justice system histories—who may otherwise be limited by criminal records—to secure meaningful employment. As such, ARP resources designed to stimulate economic recovery should include a focus on businesses that are owned and operated by people who have been in the justice system or impacted by it.  

Local Highlights

  • Connecticut: Governor Ned Lamont proposes to invest $103 million in funding that Connecticut is receiving from the ARP to ensure that workers whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have access to industry-aligned training programs that address the immediate hiring demands of employers and provide job seekers with employment opportunities. Governor Lamont set aside $4 million in specific investments in workforce supports for justice-involved youth and adults.
  • Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her funding priorities, which include investing in workforce opportunity and talent retention. These efforts will increase the number of adults with degrees and industryrecognized credentials and certificates; create Michigan Opportunity Scholarships for free community college; improve wraparound supports to increase college completion rates; and support career and technical education programs.

Other Resources

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About the Author

Image for:
Chidi Umez-Rowley
Deputy Program Director, Corrections and Reentry
Chidi Umez provides direction and support for projects that reduce policy barriers to economic opportunity for people with criminal records. Projects in this portfolio address the impact of a criminal record on job participation, occupational licensing, and business engagement. Prior
to joining the CSG Justice Center, Chidi served as a court attorney in the New York Civil Supreme Court and as an indigent defense attorney in Harris County, Texas. She received a BA in English and corporate communications from the University of Houston and a JD from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
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  • Image for:
    Le’Ann Duran
    Deputy Division Director, Corrections and Reentry
    Le’Ann Duran leads the CSG Justice Center’s efforts to design and implement strategies to support economic opportunity and prosperity for people with criminal records. She spent the past two decades working with nonprofits and government agencies to design and implement
    research-informed policies and practices to address crime and incarceration. Previously, Le’Ann directed the National Reentry Resource Center and served as the administrator of the Office of Offender Reentry for the Michigan Department of Corrections, where she managed the state’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative. Le’Ann also served as the executive director of the Center for Employment Opportunities. She received her BS from Texas Tech University and her MS from Colorado State University.
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