Our History

Our History

Providing Reentry Services for over 25 Years

Operation New Hope is a leader in the field. United by the belief that we all have the power to change our lives for the better, we enjoy broad bipartisan support. Our work has been praised by the last four White House Administrations, as well as federal, state, and local representatives, law enforcement, and business leaders. 

Kevin T. Gay is the Founder of Operation New Hope and led the organization as CEO from 1999-2022. Under Kevin’s 23 years of stewardship, Operation New Hope helped more than 10,000 individuals impacted by the criminal justice system successfully reconnect to the workforce, their families, and their communities. Kevin put Jacksonville on the national stage for leading the movement in reentry and criminal justice reform. Kevin’s impact is evident in the transformation stories of clients, enhanced hiring practices for employers, healthier communities and families, and increased public safety. 

1999

Operation New Hope was founded to address poverty, crime, homelessness, property disrepair, and drug addiction in the Historic Springfield Neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida and successfully brought together a community once lost to blight and neglect.

1999

Operation New Hope was founded to address poverty, crime, homelessness, property disrepair, and drug addiction in the Historic Springfield Neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida and successfully brought together a community once lost to blight and neglect.

2003

Our achievements caught the attention of President Bush and he selected Operation New Hope as the pilot site for Ready4Work – a reentry program designed to providing training and support to people returning from incarceration in order to match them with living-wage wage.

2003

Our achievements caught the attention of President Bush and he selected Operation New Hope as the pilot site for Ready4Work – a reentry program designed to providing training and support to people returning from incarceration in order to match them with living-wage wage.

2007

Operation New Hope’s success with the Ready4Work program was applauded by Bill Clinton in his book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.

2007

Operation New Hope’s success with the Ready4Work program was applauded by Bill Clinton in his book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.

2008

Presidential candidate Barack Obama recognizes Operation New Hope on the campaign trail.

There are millions of Americans who share a similar view of their faith and feel they have an obligation to help others and are making a difference in communities all across this country – through initiatives like Ready4Work, which is helping ensure that ex-offenders don’t return to a life of crime.

2008

Presidential candidate Barack Obama recognizes Operation New Hope on the campaign trail.

“There are millions of Americans who share a similar view of their faith and feel they have an obligation to help others and are making a difference in communities all across this country – through initiatives like Ready4Work, which is helping ensure that ex-offenders don’t return to a life of crime.”

-Barack Obama

2010

Ready4Work graduates help with the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup.

2010

Ready4Work graduates help with the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup.

 

2016

Operation New Hope was instrumental in development of Project Open Door – Jax Chamber’s Ban-the-Box initiative to encourage employers to delay criminal background inquiries to the interview process which encouraged other cities around the nation to implement more equal hiring practices for people with a criminal history. Jacksonville was one of the first chambers to do so, earning White House recognition. 

2016

Operation New Hope was instrumental in development of Project Open Door – Jax Chamber’s Ban-the-Box initiative to encourage employers to delay criminal background inquiries to the interview process which encouraged other cities around the nation to implement more equal hiring practices for people with a criminal history. Jacksonville was one of the first chambers to do so, earning White House recognition. 

2018

Operation New Hope’s CEO and Founder, Kevin Gay, was invited to the White House on two different occasions. This included the White House Summit on Prisoner Reentry and working with legislators to advance the First Step Act. The First Step Act was a bill credited as having the potential for the most far-reaching overhaul of the criminal justice system – later signed into law by President Trump. The success of the federal First Step Act, along with additional advocacy from Operation New Hope, paved the way for the passing of the Florida First Step Act, reforming the state’s prison and justice systems.

2018

Operation New Hope’s CEO and Founder, Kevin Gay, was invited to the White House on two different occasions. This included the White House Summit on Prisoner Reentry and working with legislators to advance the First Step Act. The First Step Act was a bill credited as having the potential for the most far-reaching overhaul of the criminal justice system – later signed into law by President Trump. The success of the federal First Step Act, along with additional advocacy from Operation New Hope, paved the way for the passing of the Florida First Step Act, reforming the state’s prison and justice systems.

2019

Operation New Hope was recognized by the House of Mandela as a model re-entry program for the world. Kevin Gay received the first Nelson Mandela Freedom Award from the Mandela Family. 

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2019

Operation New Hope was recognized by the House of Mandela as a model re-entry program for the world. Kevin Gay received the first Nelson Mandela Freedom Award from the Mandela Family. 

2019

Operation New Hope hosted a roundtable discussion regarding jobs, the economy, and reentry that was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis and state representatives. 

Read more.

Ready4Work is a "model program not only in Florida but for the United States."

When you compare Ready4Work’s recidivism rate to the State’s overall, it’s about 1/3 of what it would be absent this program. That’s the type of metrics we want to support.

2019

Operation New Hope hosted a roundtable discussion regarding jobs, the economy, and reentry that was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis and state representatives. 

Ready4Work is a “model program not only in Florida but for the United States.”

When you compare Ready4Work’s recidivism rate to the State’s overall, it’s about 1/3 of what it would be absent this program. That’s the type of metrics we want to support.

2021

Operation New Hope was honored by Mayor Lenny Curry on behalf of the City of Jacksonville and in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a 2021 recipient of the COJ/HUD Public-Philanthropic Initiative Award. 

Learn more.

2021

Operation New Hope was honored by Mayor Lenny Curry on behalf of the City of Jacksonville and in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a 2021 recipient of the COJ/HUD Public-Philanthropic Initiative Award. 

2022

To meet the critical needs of the thousands of people who return home every month from Florida’s jails and prisons, we created a strategic plan that expands our programs with additional locations to create a statewide reentry network. We opened a new Ready4Work program location in Orlando during the summer of 2022 to deliver our nationally-recognized Ready4Work reentry program and provide holistic solutions for returning citizens including training, housing, transportation, and mental health services. 

The City is committed to being a place where everybody feels equally valued and has equal access to opportunities and that includes individuals who have spent time with the criminal justice system. Making it easier for them to have a path is critically important because we know we want them to have a bright future. That is why I’m so pleased that after two decades of great success of the program to have it here in Orlando.

Mayor Buddy Dyer 

Learn more.

2022

To meet the critical needs of the thousands of people who return home every month from Florida’s jails and prisons, we created a strategic plan that expands our programs with additional locations to create a statewide reentry network. We opened a new Ready4Work program location in Orlando during the summer of 2022 to deliver our nationally-recognized Ready4Work reentry program and provide holistic solutions for returning citizens including training, housing, transportation, and mental health services.

2023

Operation New Hope was recognized as a Top Workplace 2023! Our Chief Operating Officer Sytisha Claycomb and Director of Human Resources Mary Croxton accepted the Top Workplace award on behalf of our organization. We were also honored by the additional surprise recognition of the “Meaningfulness” Award after so many of our employees noted that working at Operation New Hope makes them feel like they are part of something meaningful.

Creating a Top Workplace is about more than offering great benefits and vacation time. It’s about putting employees first. In addition to offering competitive compensation and encouraging work/life equity with a 35-hour work week for full-time employees, we are a close-knit community. Our team is comprised of empathetic, hard-working professionals who positively impact our community. We love what we do and it shows. 

Top Workplaces is based on employee feedback results captured by the Energage Workplace Survey. The research-backed engagement survey is driven by the industry’s most robust benchmarks built on data captured from over 27 million employees at more than 70,000 organizations across the past 16 years.

Learn More.

2023

Operation New Hope was recognized as a Top Workplace 2023! Our Chief Operating Officer Sytisha Claycomb and Director of Human Resources Mary Croxton accepted the Top Workplace award on behalf of our organization. We were also honored by the additional surprise recognition of the “Meaningfulness” Award after so many of our employees noted that working at Operation New Hope makes them feel like they are part of something meaningful.

Creating a Top Workplace is about more than offering great benefits and vacation time. It’s about putting employees first. In addition to offering competitive compensation and encouraging work/life equity with a 35-hour work week for full-time employees, we are a close-knit community. Our team is comprised of empathetic, hard-working professionals who positively impact our community. We love what we do and it shows. 

Top Workplaces is based on employee feedback results captured by the Energage Workplace Survey. The research-backed engagement survey is driven by the industry’s most robust benchmarks built on data captured from over 27 million employees at more than 70,000 organizations across the past 16 years.

2023

After our successful expansion to Orlando in 2022, Operation New Hope received a significant increase in State funding to support our continued efforts to build a Statewide Reentry Network with goal of helping the 25,000+ people that leave Florida prisons annually. Hearing of our statewide expansion plans, The Reentry Center of Brevard asked that we consider making the Space Coast region the next Ready4Work location. Brevard County having the 10th highest number of people returning from Florida prisons, the location’s proximity to our Central Florida Ready4Work office, and the well-qualified existing staff were critical factors in our expansion decision. READY4WORK Space Coast opened in august helping returning citizens in Brevard County.

Read more. 

2023

After our successful expansion to Orlando in 2022, Operation New Hope received a significant increase in State funding to support our continued efforts to build a Statewide Reentry Network with goal of helping the 25,000+ people that leave Florida prisons annually. Hearing of our statewide expansion plans, The Reentry Center of Brevard asked that we consider making the Space Coast region the next Ready4Work location. Brevard County having the 10th highest number of people returning from Florida prisons, the location’s proximity to our Central Florida Ready4Work office, and the well-qualified existing staff were critical factors in our expansion decision. READY4WORK Space Coast opened in august helping returning citizens in Brevard County.

2023

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced its 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award recipient – Operation New Hope’s President & CEO Reggie Fullwood.

“The Jaguars are honored to recognize Reggie Fullwood this year as our recipient of the NFL’s Inspire Change Changemaker Award,” said T-Neisha Tate, Jaguars Vice President of Social Responsibility. “The impactful work Reggie is leading through Operation New Hope is making a difference in the lives of many, offering hope and the necessary support and resources to assist in their transition.”

We celebrate this exciting recognition with all of you. Together, we are all changemakers working to make our communities better for more people. Thank you for your continued support of our mission and second chances.

Learn more. 

2023

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced its 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award recipient – Operation New Hope’s President & CEO Reggie Fullwood.

“The Jaguars are honored to recognize Reggie Fullwood this year as our recipient of the NFL’s Inspire Change Changemaker Award,” said T-Neisha Tate, Jaguars Vice President of Social Responsibility. “The impactful work Reggie is leading through Operation New Hope is making a difference in the lives of many, offering hope and the necessary support and resources to assist in their transition.”

We celebrate this exciting recognition with all of you. Together, we are all changemakers working to make our communities better for more people. Thank you for your continued support of our mission and second chances.

2024

Operation New Hope celebrates its 25th anniversary! To continue to meet the needs of the more than 27,000 people who return home every month from Florida’s prisons, we are committed to continuing the expansion of our Statewide Reentry Network. We plan to open a new Ready4Work program location in Tampa in 2024, and we are meeting with community partners across the state to develop additional program locations. Stay tuned.

2024

Operation New Hope celebrates its 25th anniversary! To continue to meet the needs of the more than 27,000 people who return home every month from Florida’s prisons, we are committed to continuing the expansion of our Statewide Reentry Network. We plan to open a new Ready4Work program location in Tampa in 2024, and we are meeting with community partners across the state to develop additional program locations. Stay tuned.

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