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Seattle-based MOD Pizza takes national role helping those with job barriers

MOD Pizza wants to hire a wider range of people at its restaurants and is going a step further to help those employees succeed.

SEATTLE — While you wouldn't know it by going into the MOD Pizza in Factoria, this job is a second chance for Chelsea Johnson. 

"My life is so different from before I got incarcerated," Johnson said.

Johnson had just served a four-year prison sentence when she decided to apply for a job. 

"The fact that me, who was a drug addict in and out of jail, in and out of prison, in and out of treatment centers multiple times; nothing was working," she said.

Johnson was offered a job at MOD Pizza and worked her way up to a General Manager position.

One in three Americans have a criminal record according to the nonprofit, The Sentencing Project. 

"The unemployment rate for someone that has been justice-involved is five times higher than someone who has not been justice-involved," said Ally Svenson, the Co-Owner of MOD Pizza. 

Svenson said she has hired underserved populations from the beginning, but she was looking for help with wrap-around services like housing and transportation. 

"There are a lot of incredible non-profits and regional local organizations all around the country, but to create a national network where you can do it at scale, it doesn't exist," Svenson said.

Now, Svenson is creating her own with the MOD Opportunity Network with partners like Goodwill, Fare Start and Best Buddies. 

"There is talent everywhere, but unfortunately opportunity is not everywhere for these individuals," said Svenson.

The network aims to help talented employees like Johnson. 

"I'm a homeowner which is absolutely insane and I'm about to have my first child. My life is steadily just continuously getting better and better and I'm progressing more in my life," Johnson said.

The MOD Opportunity Network is set to launch in 11 states, including Washington. 

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