Google expands program to help train former inmates –


Last April, Google launched Grow with Google Career Readiness for Reentry, a program co-developed with nonprofits to provide former inmates with job readiness and digital skills training. As part of an expansion, Google announced today that it will invest just over $8 million in organizations that help “justice-affected” individuals, including formerly inmates, enter the workforce.

Google continues its work with nonprofits including The Last Mile, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), Defy Ventures, Fortune Society and The Ladies of Hope Ministries, saying $4 million of the new roughly $8 million it invests in Grow with Google Career goes Skills, focused on helping people affected by the justice system, develop career specializations. Nonprofits that Google has not previously partnered with can apply for up to $100,000 in grants to “provide Google’s reentry training to their communities.”

Meanwhile,, the charitable arm of Google, will provide $4.25 million in grants to help state governments reduce barriers to employment with Code for America’s Clear My Record tool, which uses an open source algorithm to extract records. review and produce approval requests. Other grants from will focus on connecting people with a “justice impact” to jobs through the National Urban League’s Urban Tech Jobs Program and Columbia University’s Justice through Code.

In an email interview with, Maab Ibrahim, racial and criminal justice leader at, said it has always been Google’s intention to scale up its Career Readiness for Reentry program. “This work is really urgent – ​​more than 640,000 people are released from prison every year in this country, and almost all of them could benefit from the digital skills and work-readiness training we offer through our partners,” she added. “We co-created the program with five non-profit organizations that have a track record of successfully developing and delivering high-quality job training to returning citizens. After implementing the program in 2021 and getting feedback from partners, we saw what is really working well and how we can have more impact.”

The previously incarcerated community faces many challenges, including a lack of digital skills. Inmates can live for more than a decade without access to technologies such as smartphones and only limited familiarity with the Internet. For example, 2014 data from the U.S. Department of Education found that 62% of correctional education programs in the country did not allow inmates to access the Internet.

Searching for jobs or creating a resume using web tools is beyond the knowledge of some former inmates. According to a recent University of Kansas studyMany women who come out of prison struggle with basic skills, such as protecting their online privacy. This lack of literacy also hinders the ability of ex-prisoners to use government services, which often require online applications.

Ibrahim argues that programs like Career Readiness for Reentry can make a difference with a curriculum designed to be integrated into the programming of nonprofit partners. “Given Google’s technological expertise, one of our areas of focus is helping people learn digital skills,” she said. †[W]e believe that collaboration between businesses, nonprofits and government can be a powerful force for good. We try to facilitate that here.”

Studies have shown that digital literacy can decrease recidivism, or relapse into crime. But there is some reason for skepticism. When asked how many of the 10,000 previously incarcerated people reached by Career Readiness for Reentry programming last year found a job, Ibrahim protested.

The pandemic, which forced several Google partner organizations, including The Last Mile and Defy Ventures, to move from face-to-face to remote instruction, has been a drag. A Google spokesperson later told that, in a survey of 400 Career Readiness for Reentry participants, 75% indicated they had a job or were enrolled as a student at some point at the end of the program.

Ibrahim argues that the expanded program has the potential to make a lasting impact through a new embedded team of fellows who will work with nonprofits or community organizations to build “tech solutions.” One of their first projects is an “end-to-end” automated record cleanup service built on top of existing Clear My Record, which they will design, test, and deploy with Code for America.

Google’s lofty goal is to help 100,000 former inmates build their career skills by 2025. To achieve this, the tech giant will need to facilitate a massive expansion of access to digital literacy programs in federal and state prisons. To underscore the challenge, New York State offered three programs involving some degree of digital literacy, capped at 1,400 seats by March 2020. More than 77,000 people are trapped in New York in the state and in correctional systems. from New York City.

“Criminal records can be life sentences to poverty for many, hindering jobs, housing, education and more,” Ibrahim said. “There are so many amazing organizations doing work in this space, but we know that no organization will reach everyone in need… As we continue to refine and evaluate this work, we hope we can scale it further in the years to come. ”


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