Heartland Alliance

A Year of Big Change.

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R&P Enews | Focus on Equity



In order to provide true economic opportunity, we must change the narrative about people who have committed or been accused of crimes. We cannot be punitive and restorative. We have to make a choice.

(Art by Brittany Harris)



National Second Chance Month

April is Second Chance Month and Heartland Alliance is dedicated to creating opportunities for returning citizens and individuals with justice involvement, so that they can navigate communities safely, have access to family-supporting jobs, pursue education and build a life beyond their records. We believe that transforming the way we treat people with records is essential to combating the poverty, racism, inequity, and risk of recidivism that millions, including many of our participants and staff, face every day.

Learn more in our April e-news about the work being done to create a world that values returning citizens, humanity, and restorative justice.

Learn more about reentry with these resources from the National Reentry Resource Center.


Melissa Young, Quintin Williams, Lisa Hampton (Leaders Up), Miguel Cambray and Chris Warland at the Business Executives Association meeting in Chicago, IL.



Heartland Alliance Meets with the Chicago Business Executives Association

At Heartland Alliance, we see the unjust impacts that justice involvement has on the lives of those we serve and millions of others across the country. In Illinois, nearly 5 million adults (50%) are estimated to have an arrest or conviction record, which create substantial barriers to work, housing, and well-being.  

We recognize that in order to open doors to employment for people who have been justice involved we must dismantle the laws and restrictions standing in the way of opportunity as well as work directly with employers. That is why a few members of our team and other partners, met with the Business Executives Association last month, so that we could connect directly with employers in the Chicago area and start this crucial conversation about opening the door to opportunity.


There are no meaningful standards for the use of criminal records when hiring, resulting in hiring processes that are inconsistent, based on assumption, bias, and unrelated to whether an applicant could safely and proficiently fulfill the job.



The Employee Background Fairness Act 

People with records are routinely denied employment but not given the specifics of why they were denied. The Employee Background Fairness Act (HB3056) is crucial in increasing transparency in the background check process because it creates reasonable standards and practices for the use of criminal records in hiring. 

This bill mandates a fair and transparent process for employers to follow: provide copies of background checks to applicants; allow an opportunity for mitigating or corrective information; and conduct an individualized assessment of each candidate. Learn more about HB3056 today.



​See our full legislative agenda to learn more about the bills we are working to pass in Springfield.



Heartland Alliance is a member of the Restoring Rights and Opportunity Coalition of Illinois (RROCI). Along with our coalition partners, we believe that Illinois needs a fair system of justice that recognizes human dignity, that everyone deserves a meaningful future, and that, together, we can drive solutions with a community voice.

This year, after surveying over 500 people with criminal records, RROCI identified housing as a critical issue that faces many people with conviction histories in Illinois. To address these issues, RROCI is working to pass HB3227 which would make it a human rights violation to consider arrest, sealed, expunged, or juvenile records in considering someone for tenancy. We are also working to pass HB3332 which would create a tax incentive for landlords to rent to people with conviction histories.

During this legislative session, leaders with records have been and will continue to be, down in Springfield telling their stories and learning the legislative process. We have made significant progress in getting support for our bills, but the fight continues. 

See our full legislative agenda to learn more about the bills we are working to pass in Springfield.


Volunteer Spotlight

At Heartland Alliance’s Research & Policy division, we have the opportunity to work alongside talented and dedicated participants, staff and volunteers. Without them, our work would not be possible. That is why, this volunteer appreciation month, we want to take this time to lift up two volunteers who have given their time and talents towards helping our mission of ending poverty: Drew Rubin and LeAnne Wagner. We are so thankful for their time, efforts and dedication to Heartland Alliance!

Meet Drew and LeAnne today and learn more about them and their work.

It’s Financial Literacy Month!

We invite you to subscribe to the Illinois Asset Building Group (IABG) newsletter to learn more about financial literacy, consumer protections and more! IABG is a project of Heartland Alliance and a leader in financial equity policy and education. Visit www.illinoisassetbuilding.org to learn more and subscribe today.

Coming Soon: Housing and Criminal Justice Report

Housing is foundational for employment success, family stability, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, criminal history checks are a typical part of the housing application processes, and many people with records are declined housing opportunities they would otherwise be a good fit for, but for the criminal record.  For a housing provider, translating the desire to improve housing opportunity for people with records into concrete policies and practices can be a challenge.

Soon we will be releasing a guide of information and recommendations—ranging from small changes to the more robust—that housing providers can adopt and adapt, in whole or in part, to increase housing opportunities for people with criminal records. Heartland Alliance consulted with a number of affordable housing developers, people with criminal records, experts in the field, and researchers to hone in on recommended policies and practices. Stay tuned!


Heartland Alliance’s Research & Policy Division engages in research on social issues and solutions, policy and systems change, and field building nationwide. The division is home to Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center, Policy & Advocacy team, and our National Initiatives on Economic Opportunity.

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