General, Justice Reform

Call for Submissions: New Profit’s Unlocked Futures Cohort

September 15, 2022

New Profit to Invest $800,000 in Eight Leaders Impacted by the American Legal System


Note: Applications for this cohort opportunity have closed.

Launched in 2017, New Profit’s Unlocked Futures aims to increase visibility, remove barriers to capital, and build community with social entrepreneurs and communities who have been directly impacted by the American legal system. These barriers—including lack of access to formal job training, limited housing options, and hiring restrictions due to criminal records—leave 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals unemployed one year after their release, contributing to the recidivism cycle that damages so many communities. Entrepreneurship is one of the most viable economic pathways for the formerly incarcerated to escape this cycle, live with dignity, and contribute positively to their communities. Unlocked Futures aims to open the opportunity equation and remove barriers to entrepreneurship for people whose experience with the American legal system provides them with unmatched expertise and insight into how we build alternatives to incarceration and improve the current system.

To date, Unlocked Futures has invested in 16 game-changing organizations led by visionary social entrepreneurs. For this next cohort, we are seeking to invest in and provide capacity-building support to eight innovative organizations. You can read more about the creation of Unlocked Futures in this Fast Company piece.

New Profit selection cycles can be highly competitive. In the past, we have received over 80 applications for eight funding opportunities. Please note that the final cohort will be announced in March 2023.

Eligibility Criteria

Organizations applying to the Unlocked Futures cohort must fit the following criteria to apply. If your organization does not meet the eligibility criteria at this time, we invite you to sign up for the Unlocked Futures mailing list, which will notify you of future relevant funding opportunities. If you are on the fence about applying or have a question about your organization’s eligibility, we would encourage you to watch the recording of our informational session here or contact our team at

The Unlocked Futures eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • Organization or fiscal sponsor must be a 501(c)(3) or impact-driven for-profit organization
  • Organization is led by a social entrepreneur. We define a social entrepreneur (often the CEO or equivalent title) as both the leader and final decision-maker of an organization’s internal/external strategy, daily operations and financial decisions. Outside of your board, the buck stops with you
  • Organization has been in operation for two years as of December 31, 2022
  • Organization has an annual budget of less than $2 million
  • Organization has not previously received funding from New Profit’s Build or Catalyze initiatives. We will not be considering previous New Profit grantee partners for this funding opportunity
  • Social entrepreneur has been directly impacted by the American legal system. To get a sense of the leaders and organizations we have partnered with previously, we invite you to take a look at the first and second Unlocked Futures cohorts
  • Social entrepreneur must work for the organization on a full-time basis (~30 hours/week) as of December 31, 2022
  • Social entrepreneur plans to stay at the organization through March 31, 2024, the estimated end date for Unlocked Futures programming
  • Social entrepreneur commits to engaging in: 
    • monthly 1:1 coaching, 
    • three convenings (typically spread out over 2-3 days), 
    • and three 2-3-hour virtual learning sessions over the course of 12 months 
    • The first few dates of programming are below. We will work with the final cohort to schedule future programming.
      • Convening #1: March 21 – 23, 2023
      • Virtual Session #1: May 24, 2023
      • Convening #2: July 18- 20, 2023

We estimate that the total time commitment for a social entrepreneur participating in the cohort is 6-8 hours per month, on average. New Profit covers travel, lodging, and meals for in-person programming. The ability to commit to and attend ALL programming is required for selection. While we currently expect to hold all convenings in person, we will continue to remain responsive to public health guidelines and will transition to virtual programming if necessary. 

Our Model

Unlocked Futures offers a collaborative support model to support breakthrough social impact leaders and their organizations, creating value across several dimensions. This includes a peer learning community, 1:1 adaptive leadership coaching, consultations with external content experts, New Profit’s tested capacity-building framework and tools, and $100,000 in unrestricted support.

"For entrepreneurs who are often overextended and under-resourced, who are often isolated, who rarely have a place where they can talk openly about what they’re up against–the power of creating a community that is a counterweight to that isolation can’t be overstated.” 

— Tulaine Montgomery, Co-CEO of New Profit

While each cohort requires different supports, the base of our capacity-building program includes: 

  • Refining a systems theory of change and connecting it to a compelling story of impact
  • Assessing organizational strengths and capabilities and opportunities for growth
  • Building effective boards of directors
  • Developing effective practices for managing teams/stakeholders
  • Identifying effective practices for operational excellence in order to execute against organizational strategy (fundraising, finance, HR, and communications) 
  • 1-2 additional topics identified by cohort members as areas of support

Please note that this capacity-building program is focused on nonprofit social impact tools that address specific questions and challenges faced by nonprofit organizations. Given New Profit’s expertise lies primarily in the non-profit sector, organizations outside of the nonprofit sector may find that some elements of the programming are less directly applicable to elements of their work.

If you have any questions about this opportunity, please contact the Unlocked Futures team at


To learn more about the Unlocked Futures application process, please refer to the following resources. Note: applications for this cohort opportunity have closed.

  • SurveyMonkey Application (now closed)
  • Application Guide & FAQs – Download a Word document version of the application, read guidance from the Unlocked Futures team on the application here, and read our team’s responses to frequently asked questions here.
  • Informational Webinar Recording and Slide Deck – Review the recording and slide deck from the informational session held by the Unlocked Futures team.

For any questions, please contact the Unlocked Futures team at Due to the volume of inquiries we expect to receive and in the interest of ensuring equitable access for all applicants, we are not able to offer individual phone calls to prospective applicants.

We invite you to share this opportunity with your networks. Please stay tuned to New Profit’s social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter), the New Profit website, and this mailing list for more information on this cohort over the coming weeks and months!

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 130+ organizations and unlocked over $1.7B in government funding for social innovation through the America Forward Coalition’s collective advocacy efforts.