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Northeast Ohio man turns life lesson into app connecting convicted felons with jobs, housing

Friend A Felon
Posted at 10:05 PM, Jun 17, 2022

CLEVELAND — Though the help wanted signs and for sale signs are plenty around town, Sterling Braden knows firsthand how few the options are for conviction felons.

“I did a social experiment in February when I did 286 job applications and I got no response and I was honest about having a felony,” said Braden.

A decade ago Braden said he was convicted of improperly discharging a firearm. He used that as a learning opportunity and created a nonprofit called Friend A Felon, helping dozens of felons get their records expunged.

“We’ve done bookbag giveaways, basketball tournaments, Christmas giveaways, we go crazy for the city,” said Braden.

But that work wasn't enough for Braden, so he created the Friend A Felon app, a free app for felons, connecting them with felon-friendly jobs and housing nationwide.

“People like me do thousands of applications and don’t get a response because of a box they have to check,” said Braden. “I built the app so they can tell me exactly what felony they will accept, how long you have to be out of jail, what restrictions they have.”

The app also offers responses like expungement advice by state, re-entry resources and how to obtain an education with a criminal record.

“I have over a thousand users nationwide, I have testimonials, people telling me they have found good employment,” said Braden. “People closest to the problem are closest to the solution, so that’s why I built it.”

Employment experts believe Northeast Ohio still has a way to go when it comes to creating fair job opportunities for applicants who have a criminal record, especially those convicted of non-violent crimes. Watch more in the player below:

Experts: Northeast Ohio still has too many employment roadblocks for formerly jailed

RELATED: Northeast Ohio still has too many employment roadblocks for formerly jailed

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