40 Tons helps people ‘Level Up’ at upcoming Chicago career conference
The war on drugs has negatively impacted thousands of Americans over the last several decades. The long-term implications of a criminal conviction can make it difficult for individuals to secure housing and jobs, leading to a cycle of poverty and recidivism.
40 Tons, an African American and woman-owned social impact for-profit organization, is one brand working toward change through its innovative job fair and business expo. Their next stop: the Windy City.
Dubbed the “Level Up” Career Conference, the event is being held on the Juneteenth holiday to celebrate restorative justice. The conference aims to help job seekers in the Chicagoland area connect with employers, build their networks, and cultivate new skills.
Presented by Good Green, the Level Up Career Conference is the sixth event of its type produced by 40 Tons. Held at the Malcolm X College Conference Center in Chicago, the show provides a wide range of resources meant to empower communities disproportionately affected by the criminalization of cannabis.
Loriel Algrete, CEO of 40 Tons, said that, first and foremost, the event is designed to ensure attendees find gainful employment in addition to connecting them with a suite of services.
“We always make sure that we have companies there that are actually hiring for a diverse workforce,” she said in an interview with GreenState. “We saw a big necessity for this type of event, especially in communities that have been impacted by the war on drugs.”
Focusing on the four pillars of employment, education, empowerment, and expungement, the one-day conference doesn’t just connect people with jobs—it also offers a variety of resources to assist people impacted by the criminal justice system.
In addition to networking with dozens of the top local employers in cannabis and other industries, the Level Up Career Conference offers attendees access to job search support services, resume development and LinkedIn optimization, educational classes, professional headshots, haircuts, and more. Khadijah Tribble, founder of Marijuana Matters, will offer a keynote presentation titled “Breaking The Glass Ceiling & Creating Your Own Lane.”
Attendees can also learn about and register for the Canna Get a Second Chance program. The initiative is designed to assist members of the community with prior criminal convictions, providing an expungement clinic in partnership with Ascend Wellness, academic scholarships, and pro-bono legal services.
“We realize that expungement is a really important part of our conferences because a lot of people have been held back due to cannabis convictions,” Algrete explained. “Imagine while you’re at a career conference, you can also start to get your record expunged.”
There will also be a rooftop mixer immediately following the conference where attendees can meet and mingle while celebrating Juneteenth. The party, presented by HUSH Chicago, will highlight local Black artists, restaurants, and musicians.
The 40 Tons career conferences have grown from their start within the cannabis space to include various companies from a range of industries. Anthony Algrete, the co-founder of 40 Tons, hopes the events will soon become a go-to for both job seekers and multinational businesses seeking qualified talent.
“It’s not just about hiring people in the cannabis industry—it’s about hiring a diverse workforce in all of corporate America,” he told GreenState. “We’re starting with the cannabis industry and working our way outwards. Eventually, we want to have companies like Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. This is how we scale and how we level up.”