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U-Turn Permitted


Starting Your U-Turn


U-Turn Permitted is NLEN’s 8-day job readiness training program for job-seekers with any criminal legal involvement, where participants learn essential skills such as anger management, resume building, mock interviews, and other essential skills to succeed in the workplace.

In the last four decades, the number of incarcerated Americans has quadrupled. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 black men and 1 in 18 black women will be imprisoned at some point in their lives. In North Lawndale, it’s estimated that more than 50% of residents have a criminal record. As a response to mass incarceration, NLEN and North Lawndale community members designed U-Turn Permitted to cater to the community’s employment needs.

At the North Lawndale Employment Network, we believe in second chances and third chances; we believe your past should not be a barrier to your future, and we believe that only YOU  have the power to turn your life around. We are committed to partnering with you on this journey until you have transformed yourself and achieved the vision you have established for yourself, your family, and your community.

U-Turn Permitted participants must:

  • Be 18 years or older

  • Have any history of criminal legal involvement. We do not discriminate on the type of criminal legal history or type of conviction

  • Test negative for recreational substances

  • Have attended an NLEN orientation session

  • Be willing to commit to an 8-day job readiness program


Ready to make a U-Turn?
Sign Up Today!

Making Your U-Turn

In collaboration with professional staff, U-Turn Permitted trains you to advance in the working world. The primary purpose of U-Turn Permitted is to equip you with the skills to secure and retain employment and successfully reintegrate back into society. This program focuses not just on you, the worker, but you, the individual.


The U-Turn Permitted Workflow Chart

Steps on Your U-Turn

  • Your U-Turn will begin with an orientation session, held each Monday and Thursday morning

  • After your orientation, you will be assigned a day for intake and assessment 

  • If accepted, you will begin the next training cohort

  • Then, you will continue into 8 days of Job Readiness Training

  • After you’ve completed job readiness, we will celebrate your class at a Milestone Graduation

  • On the day of your Milestone Ceremony, you will also have a professional photoshoot for a headshot for your professional social media


Every graduate of U-Turn Permitted is instructed in:

  • Workplace ethics and etiquette

  • Team Building

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Digital Literacy

  • Resources on navigating the Criminal Legal System

  • Financial Coaching and Income Support Assistance through NLEN’s Financial Opportunity Center

  • Perfecting a professional introduction

  • Interview preparation

  • Anger Management

  • Racial Healing

Life After Your U-Turn

All U-Turn Permitted graduates receive the following:

  • A one on one assessment with a Client Solutions Specialist

  • A Milestone celebration, where you will be encouraged to invite family, friends, and others who have supported your U-Turn

  • A certificate of completion indicating the completion of your coursework

  • A personal Workforce Coach to guide your job search process, including the development of an Individualized Employment Plan

  • A personal Financial Coach to assist you with budgeting, credit, and asset-building

  • You will become eligible for job placement assistance, including referral to open employment opportunities with our employer partners

  • Membership into the U-Turn Permitted Alumni Fellowship, a community of professionals like you who completed our program and now meet to network, share job leads, and support one another


Upon graduation, you will be eligible for a number of opportunities, including:

  • A transitional position with Sweet Beginnings, NLEN’s social enterprise, or other employer partners

  • Unsubsidized job placement with major employers across the City of Chicago

  • Enrollment in Moving Forward, NLEN’s customized skills training program for Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

  • Enrollment in our WIOA Program, which provides dedicated support and training for in-demand employment certifications for emerging adults ages 18-24


As a graduate of U-Turn Permitted, you will always have access to NLEN services. Remember NLEN as you advance professionally or enter times of employment transition.

We are proud of the success of our U-Turn Permitted Alumni. We encourage you to read the story of David Figueroa, a U-Turn Permitted graduate, business owner, and one of NLEN’s employer partners.

U-Turn Permitted Sponsors

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