U-Turn Permitted


Starting Your U-Turn


U-Turn Permitted is NLEN’s four-week job readiness training program for men and women who have a felony background.

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.

Ready to make a U-Turn?
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U-Turn Permitted participants must:

  • Be 18 years or older

  • Have one or more felony convictions

  (we accept participants with any felony conviction,

   without discrimination)

  • Be drug-free

  • Have attended an NLEN orientation session

  • Be willing to commit to a four-week job readiness program


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 morning and the first Friday of the month.

  • After your orientation, you will be assigned a day for intake and assessment (a Monday or Tuesday).

  • If accepted, you will begin Anger Management Wednesday – Friday, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, of that week

  • Then, you will continue into 3 weeks of Job Readiness, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Monday-Friday

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


Every graduate of U-Turn Permitted is instructed in:

  • Workplace ethics and etiquette

  • Team Building

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Constitutional Law

  • Computer Classes

  • Expungement including clemency and sealing 

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

  • Perfecting a personal pitch

  • Preparing to answer any interview question, including questions about your felony conviction(s)

  • Completion of an in-class service project

  • Anger Management

  • Racial Healing

Life After Your U-Turn

All U-Turn Permitted graduates receive the following:

  • A one on one assessment with a Clinical Workforce Trainer

  • 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 110 hours of coursework completed, including Anger Management

  • 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 community 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 employers like Foundation for Homan Square and Jakacki Bag & Barrel

  • Unsubsidized job placement with employers like the  Chicago Transit Authority, Mariano’s, and the Onyx Company

  • Enrollment in Moving Forward, NLEN’s customized skills training program for diesel mechanics

  • Enrollment in Pathways, a small business and self-employment training program


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