The connecting the pieces Tech Check Program “Teach Enrich Connect Help” to bridge the gap for Returning Citizens program teaches basic computer skills , how to set up email, secure personal data, use social media, résumé building, how to navigate web browses.
Facilitating a smooth technological transition for citizens returning from prison.
When searching for a job, most of us click onto a company website or a popular career site, push a few buttons, and apply. Even in our highly social digital world, however, not everyone can find a job from behind a computer screen. I experienced several obstacles that made me feel defeated when I returned to society, so I feel we need to bridge this gap and help illuminate these barriers for the returning citizens.
In particular, formerly incarcerated individuals—or returning citizens, struggle to find work and reintegrate due to a lack of digital literacy
One of the things that most affects digital literacy for returning citizens is time spent in prison, of course.” Then to come home and be faced with so many barriers or obstacles that make a person feel defeated, deprived and stuck. For some returning citizens, there’s a ‘Im not worthy effect’ when they are offered digital technology upon reentry,
“W.E.E H.O.P.E INC work is probably amongst the first empirical look at digital literacy for returning citizens in the age of smartphones and social media.
With the Tech Check Bridging the Gap program W.E.E plans to forcefully bridge this gap. First, I interviewed 18 returning citizens. Even from a relatively small sample, the diversity of age and prison time was significant. Time spent in prison ranged from 6 months to 26 years.
I found that returning citizen participants still had career aspirations and an entrepreneurial spirit. In one case, a returning citizen (age 50) admitted to running a small phone business in prison in order to make more money than the wage offered for menial prison jobs.
In the second part, I researched and piloted a digital literacy course for a handful of participants, from the BHA These workshops were designed to teach the skills required to navigate the modern job search. Among other things, I found that returning citizens and public housing residents had difficulty distinguishing applicable websites from those that overwhelm users with ads, dialog boxes and several other things.
“Ideally, training for returning citizens should be very task-focused due to the diversity of those trying to learn about digital technology after prison, Though there are digital literacy courses for returning citizens offered as community programs across the country, W.E.E believes the topic requires more study.
Many returning citizens rely heavily on thier kids, spouse, friends and family for informal digital learning, but there must be additional advocacy for these individuals who are willing to become working, productive citizens in society.
“Returning citizens struggle in a variety of ways to re-integrate, and newer digital technologies pose yet another challenge. Returning citizens need more support to gain better digital literacy, and that is what W.E.E H.O.P.E INC is committed to with the TECH Check Program
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