Listen to changemaker Megan Goddard, a long time fighter for criminal justice reform, who has worked to help previously incarcerated individuals reenter society and get a fair chance at employment once they’ve been released. Megan is the Corporate Social Responsibility Program Manager at Checkr, a background check company that helps take the bias out of the process, where she helps spearhead the company’s social impact side. She’s also one of the most incredible people, and you won’t want to miss her story and insight!
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From Rikers Island to Checkr
Megan had been passionate about criminal justice reform when she began her journey at NYU pursuing a degree in Prison Psychology. During that time, she took an internship as a “Lyrics on Lockdown” arts-based workshop facilitator at Riker’s Island, notorious as one of the “worst” correctional facilities.
Rikers Island quickly deterred Megan from wanting to work inside the prison environment. She saw how often the justice system quickly criminalizes the behavior of people in poverty or with drug addiction or mental health issues. It was then that she decided she would pivot her focus onto reentry, by giving those previously incarcerated a “Fair Chance” to work outside of incarceration in an effort to decrease recidivism.
After interning at Defy Ventures, a nonprofit organization that helps those previously incarcerated defy the odds of recidivism by teaching them entrepreneurship skills, she was promoted to a program management position there.
What is the Fair Chance Movement?
The Fair Chance Movement revolves around the philosophy that everyone deserves a fair chance to work. The movement is centered around those most marginalized by society, people with incarceration in their records, specifically the many unfairly impacted by our justice system.
A Justice Reform Activist works at a Background Check Company?!
While Megan’s initial impression was that a for profit background check company was the “enemy,” she quickly learned what Checkr stands for and saw what she could help accomplish there. A company whose mission AND product is directly able to support the Fair Chance Movement was a great opportunity.
Checkr has background check technology that employs the Nature/Time/Nature test that allow the hiring company to call the parts of background check that are only relevant to the job opportunity:
- What is the nature of this crime? Is it severe/relevant to this job?
- When did it happen?
- What is the nature of the job for which they’re being considered?
Checkr’s BounceBack Committee
After Megan’s arrival at Checkr, the BounceBack Committee was born. The committee started with 5 people and a couple meetings a week, and 4 years later had over 180 members. Committee buzz encouraged Checkr to dedicate their resources to an entire Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department.
In 2021, Checkr announced that they would be taking the 1% pledge, which meant they would be dedicating 1% of their financial resources towards their new nonprofit arm called checkr.org.
Check out the Checkr Impact Program!
Checkr has the unique ability to channel their efforts into one movement, the Fair Chance Movement. Checkr was able to utilize Millie to create targeted impact campaigns. These campaigns connected employees to Fair Chance Movement nonprofits as well as mission related work to drive passion.
In the 8 months of utilizing Millie, Checkr has donated over $100,000 to dozens of nonprofit organizations. “Millie has provided that structure to connect employees to nonprofits and volunteer work towards the causes that they care about,” said Megan.
Slack Integrations Encourage Donations
Megan spoke very highly of Millie’s Slack Integration, which not only helped provide that structure and commodore, but also encouraged donations. After receiving a notification on Slack that a leader donated to a cause, Checkr had over 50 people donating to the same cause within 2 minutes.
Checkr Pilot Launches Giving Madness
Checkr set the trend of Giving Madness; a sports-style company-wide giving bracket filled with nonprofits. The company puts a pool of money into the company bracket. Employees learn about and vote on nonprofits. The money is distributed to nonprofits proportionately based on how far they got in the tournament. Megan referred to Giving Madness as revolutionary, and went on to say that it will change employee engagement forever. “Now we can engage every single employee.”
Giving Madness also educated Checkr employees to nonprofits within near proximity to them. Checkr plans to run Giving Madness on a quarterly basis, while highlighting new nonprofits each time.
While Checkr donated the pool funds, many employees willingly also donated to the donation pool as well as direct nonprofit donations.
What’s the Future of Social Impact at Checkr?
“The growth of social impact initiatives has been so inspiring that i can see checkr being viewed as more of a social enterprise than a for profit corporation,” -Megan.
She hopes to pave the pathway for more tech companies to recognize the ability to socially impact the community around them. “We hope to help be a template for future growing CSR departments.”