Breaking Barriers: Unlocked Futures and the Journey to Justice

By New Profit Communications

April 15, 2024

Imagine a world where those who’ve been incarcerated aren’t just offered a second chance but are recognized as valuable leaders in their communities. This is what Unlocked Futures is all about. It’s much bigger than simply the idea of a second chance; instead, it emphasizes unlocking the expertise and solutions-based thinking inherent to those who deeply understand the impact of the American legal system. Since launching in 2017, Unlocked Futures has provided unrestricted funding to 32 game-changing organizations and their leaders. Through their work, these innovative social entrepreneurs are shifting the narrative around what it means to have a second chance and provide new opportunities for those impacted by the American legal system.

It’s inspiring and we learn from each other. Everyone’s doing different kinds of work, but we all have the same North Star, that we want to make this country stronger and better. We want to decarcerate and invest in things that actually make people’s lives better.

— John Legend

Last fall, John Legend, artist and activist and Founder of freeamerica, sat down with the 2023 cohort of Unlocked Futures and alumni for a roundtable discussion to learn about their work and hear their stories. We’re excited to share highlights from this conversation this April, during Second Chance Month, to raise awareness, change perceptions of people with a criminal record, encourage second-chance opportunities, and drive momentum for policy change throughout the country. These leaders aren’t the exception; they each have stories of resilience and hope. They are examples of the power of believing in someone’s potential.

In recognition of Second Chance Month, we invite you to get closer to the 2023 Unlocked Futures cohort on our social media streams throughout April to hear directly from each leader about how their organization is making a difference. 

The next round of Unlocked Futures applications is set to open up Summer of 2024. Subscribe to New Profit’s newsletter for announcements and more information about applying.

About New Profit

New Profit is a venture philanthropy organization that backs social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity in America. New Profit exists to build a bridge between these leaders and a community of philanthropists who are committed to catalyzing their impact. New Profit provides unrestricted grants and strategic support to a portfolio of organizations led by visionary social entrepreneurs to increase their impact, scale, and sustainability. It also partners with social entrepreneurs and other cross-sector leaders to shift how government and philanthropy pursue social change to ensure that all people can thrive. Since its founding in 1998, New Profit has invested over $350M in 250+ organizations and, through the America Forward Coalition’s collective advocacy efforts, has unlocked over $1.9B in government funding for social innovation.


Engaging advocates and experts, freeamerica is amplifying the voices of people impacted by America’s criminal legal system and highlighting the work of those working to change it. We want to dramatically decrease the number of people needlessly trapped in this system; and transform it into one that is fair, accountable, and rooted in rehabilitation and support. Those rejoining society should do so with dignity, armed with real opportunities – because when they thrive, our families and neighborhoods thrive too.