Beacon of Hope was founded in 2016 to expand practices of hiring and supporting people with criminal records among employers in Greater Cincinnati.

People returning to the workforce with a criminal record often have tremendous difficulty finding a job — a crucial step in getting back on their feet and building a better life. People of color are disproportionately affected by this challenge, particularly the black community. By seeking to break cycles of recidivism, Beacon of Hope accelerates the essential work of building greater equity into the Greater Cincinnati region – while also supporting diverse employers and the creation of more diverse workplaces.

This work is particularly important with our community’s history of racial tension and significant racial disparities in childhood poverty. By providing economic opportunities to these otherwise excluded people, Beacon of Hope aims to create change with our economic, social, and criminal justice systems all toward greater equity.

Beacon of Hope, now operated by Cincinnati Works, owes tremendous gratitude to program founders Dan Meyer and Richard Palmer of Nehemiah Manufacturing, as well as the many generous and innovative companies we’ve partnered with to help build our program and improve lives.


Leadership Profile


Rayshun Holt – Beacon of Hope Program Director, Cincinnati Works

Rayshun builds connections across a variety of different organizations in the re-entry ecosystem – including businesses, human service agencies, faith-based ministries, corrections institutions, and government agencies among others – to improve the experience and long-term success rates for people who struggle to rebuild their lives due to a criminal record or period of incarceration.

Rayshun’s personal experience with the justice system and successful transition drive him to create more and better opportunities for others. The opportunity he received at Nehemiah Manufacturing showed him first-hand the power of a supportive employer, not just to fill an open role but to grow and develop talent. Rayshun also volunteers as a mentor with Cincinnati Works’ Phoenix Program, dedicated to eradicating gun violence by providing viable economic opportunities to local, under-served communities.

Rayshun’s leadership with Beacon of Hope extends beyond Greater Cincinnati. He is a regular lecturer at Harvard Business School (HBS), Stanford Business, and Georgetown University on a HBS case study which highlights the business value of Fair Chance Hiring.

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