Teresa’s passion for helping individuals with criminal histories is birthed out of her own lived experience with mass incarceration. After completing a 70-month federal prison sentence she co-founded Mission: Launch, Inc., with her daughter Laurin Leonard (Hodge). Mission: Launch focuses on inclusive entrepreneurship and unlocking capital for entrepreneurs with criminal histories.
Teresa Hodge is the President & CEO and Co-Founder of R3 Score Technologies, Inc., (R3 Score), a tech solution tailored for the 1-in-3 American’s living with a criminal history. R3 Score offers the benefit of context to a criminal history thereby allowing those living with a criminal record to be met with success when seeking suitable work, banking, housing, and educational opportunities. The market-driven tech offers decision-makers the context they need to move beyond a criminal background check.
Teresa is a proud member of various communities and is honored to have many forms of recognition. This includes Techstars Impact (2019), Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center Technology and Human Rights Fellow (2019), Echoing Green Fellow (2018), an inaugural Unlocked Futures Fellow (2017), an Open Society Soros Justice Fellow (2016) and an inaugural JustLeadershipUSA Leading with Conviction Fellow (2015).
Teresa believes that without tech education and inclusion at the core of re-entering society after prison millions of Americans with criminal records will remain unplugged and locked out of sustainable opportunities. Her innovative approach to criminal justice advocacy has led to national recognition. She presented twice at SXSW (2016 and 2017) and is a 2017 Dewey Winburne SXSW Community Service Award recipient. Teresa’s TEDx talk “We’ve Made Coming Home Too Hard” highlights the impact of personal bias and social stigma on formerly incarcerated people.
My Awakening and My Mission
I sat in prison with a sinking feeling knowing that technology was transforming the world, while I was left behind. I arrived in prison on January 3, 2007. Six days later, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, stood on a stage and presented the device that would change the world. He called it a 3-in-1 product “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device.” He was correct; the device, the first generation iPhone, changed everything.
Over the next few years, social media and technological advances forever changed the digital connectedness of the world; and for the first time in my life, I became a part of the digital divide. I had the frame-of-mind to know what that meant in my life and what it meant to the future of my ability to work and keep pace with society.
I also knew I was in prison with people who may not have seen the moment as I did and I knew for all of us who were incarcerated the digital divide grew wider. Tech advances and changing society in so many ways means that individuals living with criminal records are facing more-and-more significant financial inclusion barriers.
It was for this reason that upon my release in 2012 I started a nonprofit, Mission: Launch, with my daughter and co-founder, Laurin Leonard. Mission: Launch is an ecosystem builder and works to support entrepreneurs living with records because we saw how small businesses could help improve outcomes for people starting over after serving time in prison or jail.
Realizing that even if we organized our partners and delivered programming to entrepreneurs there remained a huge barrier to capital. I knew this hurdle existed and soon after I would be inspired to build a potential solution.
The idea for a product like R3 Score came from the CDFI community, more specifically the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) in the Washington, DC-Baltimore, MD metro region. It was one of their small business lenders that expressed an interest in being intentional about lending to people with criminal histories.
This one person kicked off a ripple effect because several other community lenders would in short order approach me personally to help them find and qualify entrepreneurs with records for a loan. I was intrigued by these requests and set out to learn all I could about how technology could solve this problem.
Alongside an amazing team, I built R3 Score to enable mission-driven banks to better serve people living with records to help them one day enter into more traditional banking products and services. R3 Score is a first-of-its-kind tool that offers a data-driven path toward financial inclusion and economic justice. It was built to empower community loan officers and enable better community lending.
Our vision is for R3 Score to become the gold standard for how we underwrite individuals with criminal histories across the country. We seek to disrupt the status quo on all the ways a criminal record and a traditional credit score locks people out of opportunities to gain economic freedom.
Let’s work together to make financial inclusion for all a reality!
Teresa's Rebirth Continues Here:
2020 Techstars Impact
2018 Echoing Green Fellow
2017/18 Unlocked Futures Cohort (New Profit & Free America)
TEDx Talk - We've Made Coming Home Too Hard
Watch My TEDx Talk We've Made Coming Home Too Hard