Thaddeus Swanek Thaddeus Swanek
Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 30, 2024


Andre Peart, founder and CEO of Untapped Solutions, knows what it’s like to be turned down for a job.

During one 60-day period, he was turned down for 37 jobs because of his status as a formerly incarcerated individual.

“The toughest part was getting out,” Peart says. “In prison, everything was the same day-to-day. Outside—just trying to find housing, get out of the shelter system, find a job—was a struggle... That, more than anything, made me realize something else was needed.”   

Peart found that even if employers didn’t ask about his status during an interview, the mandatory background check would require it, leaving him with few options. ​

He continued his search and was introduced to LinkedIn. A light went off: Why not create a social media site matching employers with the formerly incarcerated?

​ “Re-entry to society is very underfunded,” Peart says. “It’s an old and outdated industry. All the work is still done today with paper and pens.”  

Today, 400 employers use Untapped Solutions to find workers in the retail, technology, construction, manufacturing, and warehousing sectors. Companies can post job openings and search and sort workers based on their skills and backgrounds.

“We help employers source the talent that has been left out and help them understand that they aren’t different from the traditional people in the workforce,” Peart says. “One reason they’re experiencing all these labor shortages is because they haven’t looked at these different individuals.”

Not only can the formerly incarcerated use the site, it’s also open to the homeless population and those in drug rehabilitation programs—another potential 20 million individuals, Peart says.

The site has also broken with the pen-and-paper dynamic he encountered: Users can sign up on their phone or tablet while they’re finishing their prison term, then activate the account once they’ve been released. ​

Recidivism rates are high in the U.S: According to one recent study, 61% of state prisoners released in 2008 returned to prison within 10 years for a parole/probation violation or a new sentence. Peart thinks that could be lower.

“Reducing recidivism starts with everything being more modern,” Peart says. “Re-entry is really old, really outdated. It’s siloed. Nothing integrates together. When I look at other industries, for example, how hospitals talk to other hospitals to get data on their shared clients—that’s all recidivism needs. One system that communicates with all the entities needed to help someone succeed once they get out of prison.”   ​

Peart has some advice for businesses interested in second-chance hiring to help alleviate America’s worker shortage: Don’t start from scratch.  

“Businesses need to work with their community-based organizations who already have the game plan, the processes, who have been doing this for 40 years and know what a person needs to reintegrate into society,” Peart says. “That’s what we do. Employers don’t have to do much. You post your job and we get you talent from an organization that’s nurturing this individual.”   

About the authors

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus is a senior writer and editor with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.

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