ConConnect, the first website created by a formerly incarcerated person, connects people to services after prison, according to a CNN article written by Alessandra Freitas.
The article centered around Andre Peart, who paroled in 2018 with just forty dollars. He spent almost six years at New York’s Bare Hill Correctional Facility.
After getting out of prison, he lived in shelters and worked collecting garbage and doing maintenance in a gym. He applied for other jobs, but had no success.
“It reminded me of prison. I wanted to flourish and do more so I could get out,” said Peart.
In order to be granted parole, Peart had to obtain employment and take anger management, but he did not know where to find these things, the CNN article noted. Peart discovered LinkedIn, but was still unable to find employment, or make the connections to services needed.
“My bachelor’s degree didn’t matter, my past education in journalism didn’t matter, my previous experiences didn’t matter, and I would get turned down the minute they knew about my time in prison,” Peart said.
He then started up ConConnect in 2020, the first networking service for the formerly incarcerated, with hopes that it will lower the recidivism rate.
Over 75% of incarcerated people are re-arrested within five years, according to a 2018 study by the National Institute of Justice that examined 405,000 released prisoners. Some 44% return within their first year out of prison, and almost 70% were arrested for a different crime within three years, the article noted.
It wasn’t long before ConConnect attracted financial supporters, such as Techstars, a venture capital firm, and Cox Enterprises.
“I want to offer jobs outside of the minimum wage. Leadership, high skilled, creative jobs. The stigma can’t be bigger than our skills and brain,” said Peart.