So what is R3 Score in plain language?

R3 Score is an alternative to a standard background check. Specifically it is an online platform where individuals with records can answer a few questions and receive an equitable numerical score and report to use alongside an application for an opportunity. By creating a risk analysis tool we believe that we can improve the economic health of individuals with criminal records through an algorithm for background screening that is fair, demonstrates the strengths and capacity of individuals living with records, and expands access to jobs, entrepreneurship, and financial products.

Why does this matter?

The data is harsh but truly shows how having a record impacts one's ability to successful navigate in society.

  • 9 in 10 employers use background checks [1]
  • 4 in 52 landlords use background checks on prospective tenants [2]
  • 3 in 53 colleges and universities use background checks in admissions [3]
  • An applicant with a criminal record is 50 percent to 63 percent less likely to get a callback or job offer [4] than an identical applicant without a record—and this effective hiring penalty increases twofold for black applicants compared with white applicants [5]
  • Individuals’ net worth decreases by an average of more than $47,500 [6] in the years after incarceration—after adjusting for inflation—and the incarceration of a family member is associated with a 64.3 [7] percent decrease in a family’s assets
  • After incarceration, a person’s probability of homeownership drops more than 45 percent [8] relative to their never-incarcerated peers—even though the two groups’ homeownership probabilities were similar prior to incarceration

The realities of what it means to have a record collides with the fact that 70 million, or 1-in-3, Americans have a criminal record of some sort and this number is expected to grow to 100 million by 2030. The background screening process was created for criminal investigations and yet is now the standard for vetting candidates for just about every major life event. The widespread use of the wrong tool has an additional complication - criminal background reports often include inaccurate and incomplete data.  

Without intervening at this level personal bias and sweeping discrimination continues to exist. We know this because 60 - 75% of individuals remain unable to secure employment a year after their release from prison or jail. In order to see a change in our social outcomes we must get a better assessment tool into the hands of decision makers, one that includes the contents of a standard background check but goes further to provide greater context.

But how does this fit into Mission: Launch's work?

Odds are if you are on Mission: Launch's website you are familiar with our work in the prison reentry space, maybe you attended a hackathon or you met our co-founders at a criminal justice convening. So I'm sure it seems rather unlikely that a nonprofit would be talking about technology but in our case this isn't too off the mark.

Since 2012 we have worked with the civic tech community. In fact we have contributed to a national dialogue focused on expanding access to opportunities in tech for individuals living with records (like that time we presented at SXSW on the Prison Tech Boom in 2016 and Teresa became an Open Society Fellow advocating for this very thing). We have also supported the creation of a few open-source projects, such as Clean Slate DC which was built with love by DC volunteers through Code for DC, and we've joined very strong communities like Tech Lady Hackathon and Hear Me Code to name a few.

Additionally, while promoting tech inclusion we have also worked to expand the inclusive entrepreneurship dialogue for entrepreneurs with records. The ability to earn a livable way is paramount to every building block to economic security and yet sweeping workforce discrimination means individuals with convictions have to be equipped to start even a micro-business. Since 2015 we have helped Maryland and Washington, DC entrepreneurs form or grow a business. Overwhelmingly we see how difficult it is to secure an occupational license, bid on a contract and even establish banking relationships for a personal or business loan. In each of these instances a decision maker runs a background check and most often rejects an entrepreneur with a record. So we've slowed our programming down to focus on a product that can help our entrepreneurs and so many others nationwide. We are excited to finally be able to unlock the capital they need to pursue their dreams. Curious still? Check out this post here.

If you are interested in learning more about using R3 Score you can view the R3 Score Promotional Video and email

[1] Society for Human Resource Management, “Background Checking—The Use of Criminal Background Checks in Hiring Decisions” (2012), available at surveys/pages/criminalbackgroundcheck.aspx

[2] David Thatcher, “The Rise of Criminal Background Screening in Rental Housing,” Journal of the American Bar Foundation 33 (1) (2008): 5-30, available at 4469.2008.00092.x/abstract.

[3] Center for Community Alternatives, “The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions” (2009), available at

[4] Devah Pager and Bruce Western, “Investigating Prisoner Reentry: The Impact of Conviction Status on the Employment Prospects of Young Men” (Washington: National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 2009), available at

[5] Amanda Agan and Sonja Starr, “Ban the Box, Criminal Records, And Statistical Discrimination: A Field Experiment” (New Haven: Yale Law School, 2016), available at

[6] Michelle L. Maroto, “The Absorbing Status of Incarceration and its Relationship with Wealth Accumulation,” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 31 (2015): 207-236, available at ship_with_Wealth_Accumulation.

[7] Bryan L. Sykes and Michelle L. Maroto, “A Wealth of Inequalities: Mass Incarceration, Employment, and Racial Disparities in U.S. Household Wealth, 1996 to 2011,” The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2 (6) (2016): 129-152, available at

[8] Bryan L. Sykes and Michelle L. Maroto, “A Wealth of Inequalities: Mass Incarceration, Employment, and Racial Disparities in U.S. Household Wealth, 1996 to 2011,” The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2 (6) (2016): 129-152, available at