Future Leaders Apprenticeship Program

To truly lead criminal justice reform work upon release, people who have served decades in prison need the time and the freedom to learn the trade.

The end of a prison term marks the beginning of a new and often difficult chapter in the life of a returning citizen. For those who return after serving twenty years or longer, barriers to finding employment compound with the unfamiliarity of a world that runs on smart phones, email, and other conventions that inmates have little to no exposure to behind bars.

As the only organization in Illinois specifically working to address issues faced by youth serving life or de-facto life sentences, Restore Justice created the Future Leaders Apprenticeship Program (FLAP). FLAP provides a small number of returning citizens, who have deep commitment to social justice and high potential for impact in the non-profit sector, with a unique opportunity to turn their skills and passions for social good into new, tangible leadership opportunities — supporting advocacy in the criminal justice system and advancing careers, at the same time.


FLAP is an comprehensive apprenticeship program for formerly incarcerated individuals in Illinois who served lengthy adult sentences (20+ years) as youth. Participants will receive a combination of on-the-job training at Restore Justice and related academic instruction to develop and build skills for careers in nonprofit management, advocacy, or other social justice related occupations. Specifically, participants will receive the following:

  • Individual training plan developed to fit the participant’s career and education goals.  
  • Supervision and management by an experienced leader at Restore Justice. 
  • Access to competency- and skills-based classes and trainings. 
  • Ongoing developmental feedback and strategic support through one-on-one coaching.
  • Opportunities to shadow other organizations within Restore Justice’s network. 
  • Opportunity to develop and complete a project aligned with the participant’s interests and goals. 
  • Advice, support, collaboration, and job opportunities from Restore Justice’s network.


The goal of FLAP is to equip participants with skills and knowledge to: 

  • Secure a full-time job after completion of the program. 
  • Enhance a reconnection to society. 
  • Build a sense of empowerment through the application of new skills.
  • Cultivate growth in themselves and their colleagues. 
  • Advocate for policies that support individuals serving extreme sentences, their families, and their communities. 
  • Advance equity in the public sector and criminal justice fields. 


FLAP is now in it’s pilot phase, with one apprentice working with us at Restore Justice. We hope to expand the program to up to four apprentices each year (one at a time, since they are integrated into our staff).

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