New program will teach tech skills to ex-offenders seeking work following incarceration

Last updated on February 22nd, 2022 at 01:15 pm

Milky Way Tech Hub and The Way Out (a Milwaukee-based, non-bias employment platform) are launching a joint program aimed at educating individuals returning home from incarceration and giving them the skills in technology they need to successfully find work. The new program, called Bridging the Technology Gap for Returning Citizens (BTGRC), officially starts Feb. 26.

BTGRC has the goal of introducing returning ex-offenders to the necessary technologies that will play a role in their re-entry and employment journey. The program aims to be an entry point into the tech industry by providing fundamental skills that range from basic usage of computers to navigating mobile devices. Participants in the BTGRC program will also be provided job searching career skills.

“On average, returning citizens in The Way Out program have spent at least half a day just to learn the basics of setting up an email, how to fill out an application, download files, navigate a calendar to enter an appointment, and create new contacts on their mobile devices. BTGRC offers the opportunity to share a dedicated curriculum with a larger reach,” said Ruben Gaona, co-founder of The Way Out.

Participants will be welcomed home and introduced to the program by The Way Out. The program aligns employers with qualified Justice Involved Job Seekers (JIJS). The Way Out also provides the JIJS with additional services and technologies to help them integrate into their new roles successfully. The second half of the program will be facilitated by Milky Way Tech Hub, where participants will continue to hone their tech skills.

“As the Milky Way Tech Hub works to transform Milwaukee into a leading innovation and tech hub I understand the importance of including those impacted by the justice system in this model,” said Nadiyah Johnson, founder of the Milky Way Tech Hub. “Milwaukee is home to the zip code 53206 which has the highest incarceration of Black men in the nation. As a tech hub we must create avenues and solutions that empower all citizens to participate in our ecosystem.”

The BTGRC program is an outcome of the recent American Family investment in Milky Way Tech Hub through its Urban Futures Initiative.