The Way Out and Milky Way Tech Hub are launching a joint program – Bridging the Technology Gap for Returning Citizens (BTGRC). This is a venture designed to welcome citizens returning home from incarceration. The program is set to begin on February 26th.

BTGRC has the goal of introducing returning citizens to the necessary technologies that will play a role in their reentry and employment journey. Returning citizens are often eager to re-enter the workforce and regularly find difficulty navigating the workforce. The program aims to be an entry point into the tech industry by providing fundamental skills that range from basic usage of computers and mobile devices. Participants in the BTGRC program will also be provided essential job searching career skills to thrive in Milwaukee’s workforce and tech ecosystem.

“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. 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.” — Nadiyah Johnson

The Way Out platform is dedicated to breaking the cycle of incarceration through technology and living wage jobs. Participants will be welcomed home and introduced to the program by The Way Out. The second half of the program will be facilitated by Milky Way Tech Hub.

“At The Way Out, we understand that a successful reentry back into society begins with a realistic plan and strong support network. Oftentimes supportive service providers struggle to meet the full breadth of these returning citizens’ needs. This is why we created a highly intuitive anti-bias employment platform and mobile support app, that brings together returning citizens and supportive services providers.” says Eli Rivera co-founder of The Way Out.

The aim of the program is to lessen the burden of re-entering society after incarceration with limited to no technological background.

“On average returning citizens in The Way Out program has 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,” says Ruben Gaona co-founder of The Way Out.

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

About The Way Out

Co-founded by two justice impacted individuals, Ruben Gaona and Eli Rivera, The Way Out believes in the power of utilizing difficult past experiences to create an even better future! Which is why they strive to help formerly incarcerated individuals embrace their past and overcome the stigma often associated with a criminal conviction. In its first full year of operation (2021) The Way Out has helped 56 clients receive over 180 supportive services through their platform. During this time, they recognized that most returning citizens have a very limited understanding of how to successfully leverage technology for their reentry and employment needs…

About Milky Way Tech Hub

Milky Way Tech Hub is realizing the vision that Milwaukee is a tech hub where Black people and POC are able to thrive in the field of technology. Through a community-based grass-roots effort Milky Way Tech Hub has begun attracting national and international entrepreneurs to Milwaukee in addition to supporting the local talent already here. The Milky Way Tech Hub’s goal is to use its resources, programs, and community partnerships to create equitable opportunities for Milwaukee’s tech ecosystem.