Google is contributing more than $8 million to expand its justice reform work, including the expansion of digital skills programming for former inmates. "Returning citizens bring skills and persistence to the workforce that are valuable to employers,” said Chike Aguh, chief innovation officer at the U.S. Labor Department. As the labor market recovers from COVID-19, the more than 640,000 Americans who leave incarceration each year face higher jobless rates than average, with Blacks, Latinos, and low-income people facing the most difficulty landing a job. The lack of technology in prison creates further barriers to employment, as many former prisoners need to learn essential digital skills.
Of of Google’s $8 million commitment, $4 million will go toward a new Grow with Google fund that aims to help 100,000 former prisoners build digital and career skills by 2025. Google.org, the company’s philanthropy arm, is giving $4 million in grants to support Code for America in developing an automatic record clearance technology, which will help states in clearing eligible criminal records, and to connect ex-prisoners with digital economy jobs through the National Urban League’s Urban Tech Jobs Program and Columbia University’s Justice through Code. Grow with Google’s initiative for ex-inmates launched in April 2021 in partnership with five nonprofits that have successfully delivered job training to former prisoners.