Center for Employment Opportunities

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) helps people who have recently been incarcerated find and keep jobs that provide a foundation for a productive future. Its program has been proven to reduce recidivism and save taxpayer dollars. 

CEO offers a week-long pre-employment life skills class followed  by transitional employment on one of its work crews, where participants work an average of two to three months before being placed in a full-time unsubsidized job. CEO provides job-readiness coaching, opportunities for vocational training, job placement assistance, and retention services to help participants secure and maintain unsubsidized employment.

Forty-one percent of the program’s participants are ages 18-25.

A randomized controlled trial evaluation found that CEO reduced recidivism by 22 percent for recently released participants. The study further found that CEO produced a total net benefit to taxpayers of $4,100 per participant for the entire study sample, and as high as $8,300 for recently released individuals.

2014 Highlights

  • In January 2014, Sam Schaeffer was named Executive Director. A five-year veteran of CEO, Schaeffer succeeded Mindy Tarlow, who left to take a senior post in New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration.
  • CEO opened sites in Oklahoma City, OK and San Bernadino, CA and now offers its program in ten sites in New York, Oklahoma and California.

  • CEO was one of only two direct service organizations awarded a planning grant by the Irvine Foundation to assess the feasibility of a Pay for Success contract in California.
  • It received a grant from EMCF to support its fund development plan to increase private giving. 
  • CEO had notable success winning public and private funding, including contracts in Oakland and San Diego, and grants from Google and the Greenlight Fund.

Numbers Served

Youth served, ages 18-25

Numbers Served

Adults served, age 26 and older

Revenue (in millions)


Percentage of youth participants still employed or in school after 12 months
Note: Starting in 2014, CEO began tracking youth participants across all sites that have been operating for two years or more. Prior years only reflected numbers for NYC participants.
  • Legend:
  • Actual
  • Projected