July 14, 2017

Ohio chicken restaurant serves up second chances for the formerly incarcerated

Get inspired by these three stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover, in Columbus, Ohio, says his employment model is a business strategy that serves the entire community. Photo courtesy of Hot Chicken Takeover

Serving second chances: Hot Chicken Takeover is a Columbus, Ohio, restaurant chain serving Nashville-style hot chicken to hungry customers. But it’s also investing in an innovative and generous employment model: 60-70 percent of its workforce has a criminal record, or was formerly incarcerated, ranging from waitstaff to company executives. “Fair chance employment is not a warm fuzzy charitable strategy, but a business strategy. The thing we get out of our candidate pool is a willingness and eagerness to grow and develop and be given a shot,” said Joe DeLoss, the founder of Hot Chicken Takeover, in a new short film from The Marshall Project. “One in three adult Americans right now have some form of criminal record. This isn’t a small subset of our community. This is America.” Joseph Greene, a formerly-incarcerated employee at Hot Chicken Takeover isn’t proud of his criminal record, but he found redemption in work. “We work hard because we have to prove ourselves two times—if not three times—as that young man or young lady who hasn’t be incarcerated. You come in every day, you’re not late, you don’t have excuses,” says Greene. “We want to work.” Watch The Marshall Project’s film, “Hot Chicken, Fair Chance,” below.

Housing Hawaii’s homeless: Hawaii suffers from the largest homeless population per capita in the country. In October of 2015, Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced a state of emergency in response to the crisis. Recent counts show a decrease in the homeless population between 2016 and 2017, but the problem has persisted as housing costs in Hawaii have increased. Duane Kurisu has a big footprint in Hawaii—he’s a Hawaiian real estate investor and the owner of Honolulu Magazine. His footprint is about to get bigger: Kuriso is developing Kahauiki Village, an affordable housing compound which hopes to house 600 individuals, according to Next City. Kuriso also has negotiated an agreement with a nearby laundry facility owned by Vicky Cayetano, the former first lady of Hawaii: anyone from Kahauiki Village who applies for work is guaranteed a job.

Bridging rural America’s tech gap: Between work, school, and entertainment, an increasingly large part of our lives happens online—and the time we spend online is only bound to grow. But many Americans still don’t have reliable, high-speed access to the Internet. Within the next five years, Microsoft hopes to eliminate the “rural broadband gap” by funding projects that bring Internet access to underserved areas, and sharing technology that enables other organizations to do the same. “It’s fair to say the election raised our level of consciousness, as it did for a great many people in the country,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, told Bloomberg. “It certainly caused us to reflect on the fact that we had been pursuing these projects to a greater degree in rural Africa than rural America. We’d been involved in Asia and other continents more so than in our own country.” According to Microsoft, a program that uses “white-space spectrums”—broadcasting frequencies that are left unused by television networks—could quickly and affordably eliminate the broadband gap.

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor for The Renewal Project