Teresa Hodge is the co-founder of Mission: Launch and the CEO of R3 Score, two businesses through which she, along with her daughter Laurin Leonard, has helped roughly 70 million Americans with arrest or criminal records advance financially.
The inspiration for the mother-daughter duo was personal experience. She served a 70-month sentence at Alderson Federal Prison Camp for mail fraud, beginning in January 2007.
“I never thought that I would find myself incarcerated under any set of circumstances,” Hodge told Black Enterprise. “It was just very devastating to me and my family. I was fearful of the women I would encounter. What was shocking, however, was how much I had in common with the women I was incarcerated with. I went from fear to feeling a part of a community of women who were far away from their homes, and many of them, like me, just wanted to get back to their lives.”
Mission: Launch was an idea Lauren began working on while Hodge was still in prison.
“Lauren’s undergrad is in sociology, and she often said that she was going to pick a cause. It just so happened prison picked her,” said Hodge. “Lauren actually started the business before I came home from prison. She was in graduate school at Johns Hopkins University and entered a business plan competition. I was in prison sending her information about what is now Mission: Launch. She placed third in that competition, and that was just the inspiration she and I both needed to move forward… When I came home, I worked during the day and would do research at night. All of the money that I saved went toward starting Mission: Launch.”
R3 Score is a newer addition to Hodge’s resume which may have the potential to greatly impact the lives of numerous individuals with criminal records.
“Often when bankers do a credit check or a background check, they find out that you have an arrest or conviction record. In finding out that information, they are uncomfortable with giving you money,” Hodge says behind the impetus to initiate an alternative to a standard background check. “I am not a techie. I don’t know how to code a line but I brought a software engineer in and asked, ‘Could this rubric be turned into technology?’ He said, ‘Yes,’ and we’ve been developing it for two years. We’re now ready to launch R3 Score.
According to the Mission: Launch website, R3 Score’s online platform allows individuals with records to receive an equitable numerical score and to be used during the application processes for occupational licensing, bank financing, commercial contracting, etc.