My Way Out Inc

Your mistakes do not define who you are--but what you do afterwards

Milwaukee, WI   |
GuideStar Charity Check

My Way Out Inc

EIN: 87-1385421


Using the voice and expertise of 'credible messengers' we empower, inspire and enrich the lives of justice-impacted individuals by bringing together customized community resources, supportive service providers, and second-chance employers. By reducing recidivism, building strong communities through peer networks, and keeping families together, we will help bring hope and prosperity to marginalized communities.

Notes from the nonprofit

As individuals of color, the founders have experienced systemic racism and poverty like all marginalized and underserved individuals in our communities. They share the historical lack of generational wealth that is a barrier to equity and access to financial investment. They believe that their justice-impacted identities and respective experience, education and training are assets worthy of investment—accessing conventional loans, credit and philanthropic investments are still challenges due to the stigma of incarceration. Addressing implicit bias and reducing the stigma by building awareness of the challenges of individuals impacted by incarceration and providing training for potential employers and community stakeholders will create new opportunities for both at-risk youth and adults. Our programs and services continue to reduce incarceration rates and revocations, keep families together, and strengthen communities by reducing barriers to employment for marginalized individuals.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ruben Gaona

Main address

3514 W. Branting Ln.

Milwaukee, WI 53215 USA

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Subject area info

Health care access

Prison alternatives

Probation and parole

Rehabilitation of offenders

Services for offenders

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Population served info


LGBTQ people


Women and girls

Men and boys

Show more populations served

NTEE code info

Rehabilitation Services for Offenders (I40)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Tax forms

Show Forms 990


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In 2021, over 63,000 individuals in our community were on probation, parole and extended supervision. Without employment and support services, 90% may return to prison within two years. Wisconsin imprisons Black and Brown residents at a higher rate than any other state highlighting long-standing disparities. The Latinx co-founders and leaders of My Way Out, as justice-impacted individuals, represent hope to others when little exists and a belief in a world where returning citizens can succeed, flourish and prosper. My Way Out prepares justice-impacted individuals for reentry by addressing causes of recidivism, providing conditions for healing, reducing social stigma, dismantling inequities, and eliminating barriers to employment, housing, food security and healthcare. My Way Out develops thriving communities focused on equitable economic opportunities for marginalized individuals with the voice of diversity and inclusion as a catalyst for systemic change.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Reaching In & Helping Out

If you have a family member who is currently incarcerated and within 18 months of being released, My Way Out can start to assist in their reentry process. My Way Out will assign a support specialist, pre-board them and start working with them on a personalized reentry plan.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Bridging the Gap for Returning Citizens (BTGRC) BGTRC will focus on welcoming justice-impacted individuals back into our community and helping them navigate today's technology ecosystem.
Participants will be welcomed home and introduced to the program by The Way Out, whose anti-bias platform is dedicated to breaking the cycle of incarceration through technology and living wage jobs. Milky Way Tech Hub will then begin its programming by helping participants understand the basic functionality of two of the most important tools of the 21st Century, a cell phone and a computer.

By the end of the program, participants will have gained basic knowledge of The Internet of Things and will be better equipped to enter today's workforce. Participants will then be set up for primary interviews with local 2nd Chance employers and ongoing support will be delivered by The Way Out and their partnering reentry service providers (via the My Way Out mobile support app).

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups
Incarcerated people

Where we work

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    My Way Out creates equitable economic opportunities by reducing barriers to employment through technology and partnerships with second-chance employers. While other employment programs focus on bringing employers and employees together, MWO focuses on developing job opportunities, placement, and retention. Justice-impacted individuals are 50% less likely to get a call back for an interview. Gaps in employment, first names, zip codes, and phone prefixes are used by employers to filter out applicants. Our technology creates a contextual, strengths-based, anti-bias profile that removes potential barriers. Progress is tracked and managed via self-learning mobile app and CRM System where stakeholders communicate and stay engaged in the reentry and employment journey.

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    The first change that we made based on the feedback from our justice-involved jobseekers and our partner reentry organizations was to be able to respond to our clients within 24 hours. Also, based on the feedback that we have received from our justice-involved people, we started working with The Way Out, which is breaking the cycle of incarceration through technology by developing and creating a CRM System to assist Reentry Service Providers in managing and tracking their clients as well in developing a self-learning mobile app to assist justice-involved individuals to track their support needs, personal development, and professional development.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


My Way Out Inc

Financial data

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

My Way Out Inc

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: 2022

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Contributions, Grants, Gifts $235,449
Program Services $0
Membership Dues $0
Special Events $0
Other Revenue $0
Total Revenue $0
Program Services $190,942
Administration $81,832
Fundraising $0
Payments to Affiliates $0
Other Expenses $0
Total Expenses $272,774

My Way Out Inc

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: 2022

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Total Assets $158,250
Total Liabilities $114,524
Fund balance (EOY)
Net Assets $0


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Ruben Gaona

Ruben Gaona was born in El Paso, Texas, and moved to Milwaukee's Southside at the age of 15. In 2017 Ruben completed 7 years of a 10-year sentence, and in 2019 he founded 2nd Chance Wisconsin and began providing guidance (through motivational speaking) to formerly incarcerated people and others facing barriers. Ruben is a U. S. Navy Veteran, a former employee for the Department of Defense (NAVY), and an ex-felon. Ruben is currently a Senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Ruben's experience working in re-entry with the State of Wisconsin inspired him to co-found The Way Out, where he is currently the COO. Ruben has had the privilege of speaking at several re-entry engagements throughout Wisconsin to discuss the merits of second chance employment. Ruben is also an active advocate of the Ban the Box movement in the United States and has actively advocated on behalf of Expungement Bill SB78.

There are no officers, directors or key employees recorded for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

My Way Out Inc

Board of directors
as of 04/07/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Karen Coy Romano

Solutions Unlimited

Term: 2024 - 2023

Nyra Jordan

American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact

Francesca Mayca

Hispanic Professionals Greater Milwaukee (HPGM)

Peter Welch

The Welch Group

Avelina Poppert

Waukesha State Bank

John Chidester

Johnson Financial Group

Patrick Snyder


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/12/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/19/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.