Accenture and Goodwill Develop Virtual Experience To Help People Impacted by the Criminal Justice System Enter the Workforce

Originally published at Accenture is ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.


Goodwill Industries International has teamed with Accenture to develop an innovative virtual experience called Project Overcome. The experience is designed for people impacted by the criminal justice system who want to enter the workforce. Through a simulated interview experience and a series of stories, users will speak face-to-face with a human resources manager and hear from individuals who overcame challenges they faced when seeking and earning employment after incarceration.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 650,000 individuals are released from prison each year, and approximately two-thirds are rearrested within three years. As these individuals transition into the workforce, they need to be able to achieve their education and employment goals. Project Overcome uses virtual reality to give users a 3D immersive experience in a mock interview with an HR manager and a coaching session with a career counselor. This experience is based on realistic scenarios often encountered by individuals who were formerly involved with the justice system. Additionally, six individuals who were impacted by the criminal justice system share their real-life journeys to finding employment. The program uses a branched narrative approach to these dialogues, with the capacity to create millions of unique combinations of how the training can play out — all depending on the individual user’s choices. The goal is to assist people with finding employment by helping them speak comfortably about their incarceration during their job-hunting process, while also learning to use modern technologies in a low-risk environment.

“Project Overcome helps individuals through a unique experience so they can feel empowered to tell their own narratives about their backgrounds to prospective employers,” said Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “People impacted by the justice system often experience inequities over the course of their lives coupled with limited work experience and little to no financial resources, stable housing or support systems. This program offers the possibility for the trajectory of their lives to change and allows them to re-establish themselves as contributing members to their communities.”

The virtual solution is a result of collaboration with Accenture, which has long supported Goodwill Industries International’s workforce development efforts as part of its Skills to Succeed initiative, which aims to support and empower people to take on the shifting workforce landscape and build a more economically inclusive world. Since September, the global professional services company has provided a grant and pro bono consulting to Goodwill to develop new ways to address the challenges those impacted by the criminal justice system experience when entering the labor force. The nine-month in-kind engagement with Goodwill includes a series of interviews and surveys of potential users and employment professionals, as well as the development and piloting of the proof of concept.

“COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on individuals who were already at risk of being left behind, including those who have criminal backgrounds,” said Jimmy Etheredge, CEO – North America, Accenture. “It’s in our collective interest to lift each other up as we recover from the health, economic and social crisis of the century. When we unleash the combined power of technology and human ingenuity, we can remove barriers and create pathways to opportunity.”

Dan Guenther, extended reality lead at Accenture, added, “Project Overcome demonstrates how VR technologies can be applied to practical, real-world challenges — in this case, by simulating the high-stress job interview situation and allowing users to roleplay in a risk-free environment. The instant, interactive feedback provided allows users to refine or rework their approaches, building the muscle memory and confidence required to successfully interview in person and enter the workforce.”

Ten community-based, nonprofit Goodwill organizations are implementing Project Overcome, including Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit (Detroit, MI); Gulfstream Goodwill Industries (West Palm Beach, FL); Goodwill Industries of Mississippi Inc. (Ridgeland, MI); Goodwill Industries of Northwest Ohio (Toledo, OH); Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas (Kansas City, MO); Goodwill Industries of Kentucky (Louisville, KY); Goodwill Industries of West Michigan (Muskegon, MI); Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, PA); Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Stateline Area (Rockford, IL); and Goodwill Industries of Central Ohio Inc. (Columbus, OH). Many of these organizations serve the largest number of people impacted by the criminal justice system throughout the Goodwill network of 156 nonprofit organizations in the United States and Canada.

Each year, more than 82,000 people impacted by the criminal justice system achieve their education and employment goals with holistic reintegration services from Goodwill organizations.

Latest News

woke politics

Republicans Launch a War on ‘Woke’ Politics in Hopes of Big Legislative Wins in 2022

In 2020, former President Barack Obama warned that the phrase “Defund the Police” could become a dangerous rallying cry for the conservative right. But now, Republicans have apparently taken that warning one step further, declaring war on all things “woke.” Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur of NBC News wrote that…

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…