Mountainview, CA — Google and U.S. Department of Labor Chief Innovation Officer Chike Aguh today announced Google is contributing more than $8 million to expand its justice reform work, including the expansion of its digital skills programming for formerly incarcerated individuals. The expansion aims to provide greater access to digital skills training, programs, and tools that advance economic opportunity for formerly incarcerated people.
"Returning citizens bring skills and persistence to the workforce that are valuable to employers,” said Chike Aguh, Chief Innovation Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor. “We need to continue to work across sectors to expand employment opportunities for these individuals who deserve the opportunity to make meaningful, lasting contributions to their families and their communities.”
As the U.S. labor market recovers from COVID-19, the more than 640,000 Americans who leave incarceration each year still face higher jobless rates than average, with Black, Latino, and low-income individuals facing the most difficulty landing a job. The lack of technology in prison also creates further barriers to employment, as many formerly incarcerated individuals need to learn essential digital skills for the current job market.
Out of Google’s new $8 million commitment, $4 million will go toward a new Grow with Google fund that aims to help 100,000 formerly incarcerated individuals build digital and career skills by 2025. Separately, Google.org, the company’s philanthropy arm, is giving $4 million in grants to support Code for America in developing an end-to-end automatic record clearance technology, which will assist state governments in clearing eligible criminal records, and to connect formerly incarcerated people with digital economy jobs through National Urban League’s Urban Tech Jobs Program and Columbia University’s Justice through Code.
Google.org is also providing a full-time team of pro-bono Fellows to support Code for America. Fellows will work alongside Code for America to help transform the process of automatically clearing records, creating a replicable model for all 50 states to use data to assess real-world policy impact for directly-impacted individuals and support implementation to better identify and expunge past records through CfA's Clear My Record project.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed in today’s digital economy, but not everyone has equal access to the skills needed to thrive,” said Maab Ibrahim, Racial and Criminal Justice Lead, Google.org. “Google is committed to helping bridge this divide. By reinvesting in trusted Grow with Google partners and providing new Google.Org grants that help with job placement support, we aim to help more formerly incarcerated individuals gain essential digital skills, connect with career opportunities, and increase their economic potential.”
Grow with Google’s initiative for people who were formerly incarcerated originally launched in April 2021 in partnership with five nonprofits that have successfully developed and delivered high-quality job training to returning citizens: The Last Mile, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), Defy Ventures, Fortune Society, and The Ladies of Hope Ministries. The initiative has so far reached 10,000 formerly incarcerated individuals. Together with these program partners, Google co-curated video-based lessons and designed easy-to-use guides to help formerly incarcerated people access digital and career skills. Out of participants surveyed, 85% of participants said that they felt more prepared for their future, and over 75% of participants surveyed reported they had a job or were enrolled as a student by the end of the program.
In addition to the existing nonprofit partners receiving new funding as part of this expansion, other nonprofits will be able to apply for up to $100,000 in support to offer Google’s reentry skills training to their community. Google will also share a Grow with Google Practitioner's Guide for nonprofits that are interested in delivering digital skills trainings, with best practices learned along the way
The program’s training encompasses five Learning Paths that Google developed in collaboration with nonprofit partners: (1) Getting Started with the Basics, (2) Job Search, (3) Job Readiness, (4) Online Safety, and (5) “Next Step” Job Readiness Skills. Lessons vary from fundamental digital skills such as how to apply for jobs online and create a resumé, to more advanced topics including entrepreneurship and business budgeting. Partners have integrated this curriculum into their existing job readiness programs and provide job placement support to help place learners into paid apprenticeships and entrepreneur-in-residence programs.
Since 2015, Google.org has donated over $48 million and 50,000 pro bono hours to nonprofits working to advance criminal justice reform, including over $10 million to organizations connecting formerly incarcerated individuals to employment.
Organizations that serve formerly incarcerated individuals and want to partner with Grow with Google can learn more here: grow.google/justice-impacted.
“We're thrilled to partner with Grow with Google to offer important technology training to justice-impacted communities through the Grow with Google Career Skills for the Justice-Impacted program,” said Andrew Glazier, President and CEO, Defy Ventures. “Defy Ventures has seen firsthand how tech skills play a critical role in the successful reentry of formerly incarcerated people into their communities. We are grateful that Google has recognized this need and has prioritized making support available for this often overlooked population.”
“Code for America is grateful for Google.org's support, which will empower us to continue our work to fundamentally transform how records are cleared across the nation," said Meilani Santillán, Program Director of Code for America's Clear My Record Initiative. "By partnering with states, we will design and implement automatic record clearance policies at scale--and Google Fellows will help us accelerate that impact. The Clear My Record Initiative ultimately enables states to clear millions of eligible criminal records, effectively removing barriers to employment, housing, education, and other opportunities that support wellbeing."
“Foundational digital skills are essential in today’s workforce and even more so for our participants who face tremendous barriers to employment during reentry,” said Samra Haider, President of the Center for Employment Opportunities. “After a successful pilot program, we are excited to continue our partnership with Google and scale Grow with Google digital skills training into our job-readiness programming at all 31 locations across the country. We aim to deliver the training to at least 1,000 justice-impacted individuals this year, to further support them in achieving economic mobility.”
“As an organization dedicated to disrupting mass incarceration through personal and professional development, The Last Mile is honored to be part of Grow with Google’s initiative supporting justice-impacted communities. The criminal justice system in the United States is deeply broken, specifically as it relates to mass incarceration,” said Sydney Heller, Executive Director of The Last Mile. “With Grow with Google's enormous scope and reach, backed by the resources, passion, and expertise of Google, we are able to start a conversation that could reach millions of people across the country. The potential impact of this initiative is profound because it represents an acknowledgment that social issues in this country must be actively addressed by organizations large and small across every industry; Google is stepping up to that challenge and demonstrating how we all have a responsibility to create positive social change.”
About Grow with Google
Grow with Google was started in 2017 to help Americans grow their skills, careers and businesses. It provides training, tools and expertise to help small business owners, veterans and military families, jobseekers and students, educators, startups and developers. Since Grow with Google’s inception, it has helped more than eight million Americans develop new skills. Grow with Google has a network of more than 8,000 partner organizations like libraries, schools, small business development centers, chambers of commerce and nonprofits to help people coast-to-coast.