Michelle Cirocco: Restoring the Right to Work

Michelle Cirocco: Restoring the Right to Work

Today the Contribution Community welcomed another amazing individual, Michelle Cirocco. Michelle is the Chief Social Responsibility Officer at Televerde, and the Executive Director of the Televerde Foundation. She was recently named one of the World-Changing Women in Conscious Business by Conscious Company Magazine and Most Admired Leader by the Phoenix Business Journal. And, Forbes featured her journey of transformation in a two-part interview. She organized the first-ever TEDx event inside of the Perryville Correctional Facility. If you haven’t seen any of these TEDx talks, I can’t recommend them highly enough.


Michelle is a tireless advocate for giving people second chances. And, our discussion centered on the massive opportunity to tap into the Prison to Workforce pipeline that goes largely unnoticed (or completely ignored) by the majority of the business world. As we continue to explore our own transformation from fear-based policies to love-based practices, our time with Michelle couldn’t be more timely and relevant.

Michelle shared her journey from a 7-year sentence to a leader in restoring the right to work. The Televerde Foundation helps businesses access the incredible talent and work ethic of folks who have been formerly incarcerated.

  • The US has 5% of the world population but 25% of the world prison population.
  • 1/3 in America has a criminal record (according to the FBI). That’s the same as have college degrees.
  • Ban the Box laws are gaining traction across the country. The federal government has passed new legislation banning the box for federal jobs.

Televerde offers a “bootcamp” training program to female inmates who want to work for them. It’s like a mini MBA. The workers receive competitive market rate for their work. In fact, the company refuses to operate in states where the law doesn’t allow inmates to receive a full wage.

Finally, Michelle says, public sentiment around hiring former (or even current) inmates is shifting. But, there’s more work to do. And, you can help. Does your company still have “the box” on job applications? How should business help get those who’ve served their time back to work?