Second Chance Employment: Dave's Killer Bread
Maker of the nation’s #1-selling organic bread, Dave’s Killer Bread (DKB) is known for its super-seeded nutrition and rock-n-roll attitude, epitomized by its logo of founder Dave Dahl with guitar in hand on the package. Dave mastered more than chords and baking to earn that logo. After serving 15 years in prison, he returned to the family bakery and developed the recipes that became Dave’s Killer Bread. Throughout its meteoric growth, DKB has quietly continued the Dahl family legacy, giving job opportunities to people with criminal backgrounds. Today 30-40 percent of the more than 250 employees at the company’s Oregon bakery have a criminal background.
The company set out to influence beyond its bakery walls using its communication channels to change the national narrative around people with criminal histories and launch the Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire other businesses to become Second Chance Employers. Promoting the long lasting benefits of Second Chance Employment, DKB changes lives and communities. It’s also leveraging a key competitive advantage in a category that is full of competition: baked goods.
A steady, good paying job provides a needed foundation for individuals looking to rebuild their life after incarceration, yet studies show a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. DKB and other Second Chance Employers know from experience that employees with criminal background often become the most loyal, ambitious, hard-working hires a company can make.
For the DKB Foundation, this message has found resonance and in 2017, it was looking for a greater audience for its newly minted “Second Chance Playbook” (toolkit for employers), two Second Chance Summits planned for Seattle and Atlanta, and financial support for its ongoing programs and advocacy.
The 2017 program strategy was designed to change the conversation about the potential of people with criminal backgrounds who are ready to change by reaching a broad national audience and inspiring employers to become Second Chance Employers.
To achieve this goal, DKB created a powerful animated video showing the journey of DKB Assistant Production Supervisor from ambitious youth to prison time to a career; partnered with The Last Mile (a unique web development shop inside California’s San Quentin State Prison) to create a story collection hub where individuals can share their second chance stories and declare their support for hiring people with criminal backgrounds; invested in native content and blog posts that associated the appealing quality of Dave’s Killer Bread with the people behind the products; secured media stories that reinforced the powerful, positive impact for employers and employees when businesses open up hiring practices to people with criminal background and energized “BreadHeadNation” to become Second Chance Employment advocates.
In 2017, Dave’s Killer Bread grew by more than 75 percent over 2016. The Foundation hosted 318 Second Chance Summit attendees in Seattle and Atlanta and created a Second Chance Job Fair in Seattle. In 2017, there were 750 unique users of the Foundation’s Second Chance Employment Toolkit and the Foundation raised significant awareness of the Second Chance Employment movement among potential employees, would-be employers as well as general consumers.