• 0.28,1.00
  • 0.17,1.00
  • 0.05,1.00

Pathways provided job-readiness training, case management, transitional jobs, and subsidized internships to people recently released from prison to support participants in securing unsubsidized employment.

Pathways provided job-readiness training, case management, transitional jobs, and subsidized internships to people recently released from prison to support participants in securing unsubsidized employment.

Pathways began with orientation activities, which included assessments of occupational skills and career interests. Participants then worked three days per week and spent the other weekdays participating in nonwork activities provided by Pathways, such as job-readiness training, career-development workshops, and case management. Participants first worked in transitional jobs with street-cleaning crews or in the kitchen of the implementing organization, the Doe Fund. Next, they worked at a subsidized internship with a partner employer. Participants earned slightly more than minimum wage during the transitional jobs and internships. Participants who did not secure unsubsidized employment by the end of the internship participated in job-search activities. Participants could access job-readiness services, including computer training, financial literacy classes, and soft-skills training throughout their participation in the program. Participants received financial incentives, including $100 for securing an unsubsidized job and up to $1,000 if they were employed for 32 hours per week for 5 months. The program lasted for up to 26 weeks (1 or 2 weeks of orientation, either 6 or 8 weeks of transitional work, 8 weeks of subsidized work, and 6 to 9 weeks of job-search assistance).

Pathways was implemented in New York City, NY. The evaluation of Ready, Willing, & Able was part of the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) evaluation, which also tested similar subsidized employment interventions in Atlanta, GA (Good Transitions); Milwaukee, WI (Supporting Families Through Work); San Francisco, CA (TransitionsSF); Syracuse, NY (Parent Success Initiative); Indianapolis, IN (RecycleForce); and Fort Worth, TX (Next STEP).

Year evaluation began: 2011
Populations and employment barriers: Former incarceration
Intervention services: Case management, Financial incentives, Training, Financial education, Occupational or sectoral training, Soft skills training, Subsidized employment, Transitional jobs, Work readiness activities, Job search assistance
Setting(s): Urban only

Effectiveness rating and effect by outcome domain

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Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Supported favorable $1,004 per year 0.048 1000
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $2,113 per year 0.101 1005
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 9% (in percentage points) 0.213 1000
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.052 1005
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term No evidence to assess support
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $-404 per year -0.147 673
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Supported favorable 9% (in percentage points) 0.173 724

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
White, not Hispanic
Hispanic or Latino of any race
Another race

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

The Ready, Willing, & Able intervention began as a residential program in 1990 and is still operating. Nonresidential program services were offered from 2000 to 2009 and again through Pathways in the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) from December 2011 to mid-2014. The Pathways transitional jobs study, as part of ETJD, enrolled and randomly assigned participants between November 2011 and December 2013. Participant impacts were measured 12 and 30 months after random assignment.

Organizations implementing intervention

The Doe Fund, a social enterprise nonprofit, implemented the Pathways intervention. The Doe Fund operates the residential Ready, Willing, & Able program for people who were formerly incarcerated and experiencing homelessness; transitional and permanent housing facilities for low-income individuals and families; and street-cleaning, culinary, and pest-control social enterprises that are the sources of subsidized employment opportunities for participants.

Populations served

Pathways served English-speaking people who were formerly incarcerated and also met the following criteria:

  • were age 18 or older

  • had been convicted of a crime as an adult under federal or state law

  • had not been convicted of a sex offense

  • had been released from prison in the past 120 days

  • did not hold an associate’s degree or higher

  • did not hold a professional trade license or one of several information technology certifications and did not belong to a union

  • passed regular drug tests

  • read at a fifth-grade reading level or higher

  • were physically able to work

  • had not participated in a Doe Fund program in the past five years

  • did not receive more than $700 in Social Security benefits

  • were not living in a shelter

The population examined was 96 percent male; 69 percent Black, not Hispanic; and 27 percent Hispanic. Sixty-four percent of the population held high school diplomas or the equivalent. Forty-seven percent of the population had children who were minors, and 41 percent reported being noncustodial parents.

Description of services implemented

The Pathways intervention provided four sequential stages of nonresidential services and supports to develop participants’ work and soft skills in increasingly independent settings.

Stage 1: Orientation. Participants attended a paid one- or two-week orientation in a cohort, participating in workshops on soft skills and learning about the transitional job options at the Doe Fund’s social enterprise street-cleaning or culinary businesses. For attending orientation, they received $15 total—later increased to $30—plus the cost of the subway. Participants also completed computer skills and vocational assessments as well as the Test of Adult Basic Education. Participants selected the type of transitional job they were interested in at the end of orientation and then moved through the other intervention stages with their cohort.

Stage 2: Transitional job. After orientation, participants worked for six to eight weeks in a transitional job for three days a week, either on a street-cleaning crew or in a kitchen. Participants received a starting wage of $7.40 per hour (slightly above the minimum wage of $7.25) for 3 days a week, 21 hours total. The starting wage changed to $8.20 per hour after November 2013, timed with an impending New York State minimum wage increase to $8.00. The intervention provided weekly subway cards, brown-bag lunches, and the option to be served breakfast and dinner at the Doe Fund program site.

Stage 3: Internship. After participants’ transitional job period ended, Pathways placed participants in an eight-week subsidized internship at a partner employer for 3 days a week, 21 hours total, based on their skills, background, career interests, location preferences, and internship slot availability. Participants received the same wage they received in Stage 2, paid by the intervention.

Stage 4: Job search. After the internship, participants not hired for unsubsidized employment where they interned received job-search assistance, including a weekly job club, for 6 to 9 weeks. The intervention paid participants the wage they received in their Stage 3 internship for 3 days a week (21 hours total) until the last week of the paid job search, when they received $15 total.

In addition to these central components, the program offered the following services:

  • Case management. Case managers met with participants as needed during their transitional jobs to help participants transition to life post-incarceration. Case management continued but was less frequent during the participant’s internship, occurring in weekly meetings as well as in a weekly internship support group.

  • Unpaid classroom-based activities. Participants attended a variety of classes for 2 unpaid days a week (15 hours total) during Stage 2 and 3. Topics included job readiness, financial education, soft skills, and parenting classes if participants had children who were minors.

  • Occupational skills training. Pathways offered a training on building maintenance that allowed participants to earn boiler, fireguard, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration certifications. It was unpaid, optional, and offered outside of work hours. Pathways reimbursed participants for test costs associated with earning certifications.

  • Child support assistance. Pathways helped develop a payment plan for participants who owed child support that involved deductions of $25 from their subsidized wages each month.

  • Post-intervention services. Pathways provided a financial incentive of $100 when participants got a job and up to $1,000 for retaining a job for at least 32 hours per week for 5 months (in $200 increments). Pathways also hosted monthly check-in events for graduates. The Doe Fund provided lifetime case management to graduates.

Participation was voluntary, and most intervention referrals came from parole officers. However, receiving enough referrals to fill intervention enrollment was challenging. Pathways staff reported that parole officers sometimes hesitated to refer participants to Pathways, rather than a competing subsidized job program for individuals with criminal records, because they knew the program randomly assigned participants to a comparison or intervention group. The program initially planned to serve only men but later enrolled some women to increase enrollment. Similarly, the program initially required applicants to pass drug tests but later began to enroll individuals who tested positive for alcohol and marijuana. (Pathways still required participants to pass regular drug tests while in the program.)

Implementation differed from initial plans in terms of the size and timing of cohorts. The intervention enrolled smaller but more frequent cohorts than originally planned and served multiple cohorts at the same time in different stages to reduce the attrition that had occurred among potential participants who had had to wait to enroll in the next available cohort. The Doe Fund also modified the program stages to shorten the time in orientation and transitional jobs and to extend participants’ time receiving paid job-search assistance.

Service intensity

Orientation lasted one to two weeks. The transitional jobs were for three days a week for six to eight weeks. The internships were for three days a week for eight weeks. Participants also received classroom-based trainings two days a week during the transitional job and internship. Job-search assistance, for those who needed it, was delivered three days a week for six to nine weeks. The program provided services to participants for up to 26 weeks.

Seventy-nine percent of participants worked in a transitional street-cleaning or culinary job for 15 days across five weeks on average, and 52 percent of participants worked in an internship for 21 days across seven weeks on average. Seventy-two percent of participants who worked in an internship received paid job-search assistance after the internship period. Ninety-eight percent of participants received at least one program service that was not a subsidized job.

Comparison conditions

Individuals who were randomly assigned to the comparison group could not participate in the Pathways program, but they received a list of alternative resources, including 17 organizations such as the local American Job Centers. Another organization in the city, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), operated a transitional jobs program that was similar to Pathways; although CEO was not on the list of alternative resources, about one-third of comparison group members enrolled in that program.


New York City parole officers referred participants to the program.

More than 40 employers in New York City, including nonprofits, private companies, and public agencies, partnered with Pathways to employ participants in internships.


Four career developers and one workforce development assistant, two senior work site supervisors and six work site supervisors, and up to six career pathways advisors provided the intervention’s central services. The career pathways advisors provided case management. Additional full-time staff included a program director, associate director, evaluation coordinator, administrative assistant, two education instructors, training coordinator, security guard, and dispatcher. Staff had case management backgrounds or were hired from other Doe Fund programs.

Local context

The intervention took place in New York City, NY. Many organizations provide services to formerly incarcerated individuals in New York City, as about half of individuals released from New York State prisons live in New York City upon release. A barrier for formerly incarcerated individuals living in New York City is finding affordable housing.

Fidelity measures

The study did not discuss any tools to measure fidelity to the intervention model.

Funding source

The Pathways intervention was part of the federal ETJD. Pathways received a federal grant through this demonstration from the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Cost information

The cost per Pathways participant was about $8,100 (in 2016 dollars), which included program operations, participant support services (including financial incentives), and participant wages. The study does not discuss a comparison of costs and benefits.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1