Interview: Clean Decisions

Photo Credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post

Interview Conducted by: Fred D Fundo

Research Associate at Mentor Capital Network

Candidate, M.A. in Sustainable Development

Interviewee:               Charlie Curtis

Organization:             Clean Decisions

Date:                           April 5, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Interview Series: “What Social Enterprise Looks Like”

Mr. Fred Fundo of the MCN interviewed Mr. Charlie Curtis, Co-Owner & Head of Operations Clean Decisions.  

Clean Decisions is a for-profit organization situated in Washington DC that recruits and trains “Returning Citizens” who are coming out of prison and often have trouble in finding jobs.

Fred: Can you describe you recruitment process? Are you partnering with a local government office or an agency in recruiting your “returning citizens”?

Mr. Curtis: We get a lot of people from “word of mouth” through people that already work for us. There are also social service organizations called Free Minds Book Club and Hope Village DC. Free Mins Book Club goes into DC jails and does a reading and writing program with juveniles that were accused and treated as adults. Will (Will Avila, Co-Owner & CEO of Clean Decisions) and I are part of that program that recommends people to us. The program is in three stages: one stages is that when you get Title 16 and go to jail they bring you books to read and teach you how to write.  

Fred: In recruiting the returning citizens, do you consider people with certain skills?

Mr. Curtis: No particular skills. We go for any returning citizen but provided job training for them for the kind of work we do, like landscaping or kitchen cleaning. The main thing that were stressed on is consistency. We want people committed to the program because we have a commitment already made to our customers that we have to meet. 

Fred: During the training process, do you provide any form of stipend?

Curtis: Yes. When they are recruited for the program, they are placed on the payroll. The first week our employees will receive a live check to see and second week they are put on the official payroll.

Fred: How much does your organization pay on the average as stipend or wages?

Curtis: The average we can give a person is part-time 20 hours per week at the rate of $12.00 per hour as the starting rate.

Fred: How do you describe the level of participation from the local community in helping to reintegrating the returning citizens?

Curtis: We have an initiative call the Pan Cake Serve Day where we go to a local community and invite them to come eat breakfast with us on a Saturday. During the breakfast, we tell them about what we are doing to change our lives and what we expect from them. They also tell us some of the stuff they can relate to us and how we can also relate to them.

Fred: What will you consider as the major challenge in running the day-to-day affairs at Clean Decision?

Curtis: A major challenge we faced is losing contracts because of our background. Some people once they hear that we are felons or returning citizens, they don’t want to deal with us. They just get a second guess because of the things that we did in our past.

Fred: I know that you will clean a restaurant depending on the size, but how much do you charge on the average to clean a restaurant?

Curtis: On the average, it is between $300-$500 depending on the size and how often we clean it. If we clean a restaurant twice a monthly or more, the price will be lower and if it is once a month, then it will be higher. Basically, this is due to the fact that we’ve cleaned it regularly and there will not be much work to do every time we are requested to clean.

Fred: Have you had a situation where one of your employees were again involved with some criminals and jailed? If yes, do you accept such person back into the program after serving their time?

Curtis: We don’t judge people. We have an open door policy. We don’t give up on anyone. Everybody makes mistakes. We are here to help people grow from their mistakes and give them a second chance.


More information on Clean Decisions is available at or