Prison Based Digital Literacy Education: The Social Innovation Dell is Looking For?

In mid-January a fellow PhD Student (Ivette Bayo) sent out an e-mail asking if anyone was planning to applying to the Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC), a competition drawing 100’s of entries from across the globe. After doing some research, I found out that submissions are supposed to address the world’s most pressing problems and that an entry would put us in contention for one of 27 awards, more than $140,000 in cash prizes and more than $500,000 worth of in-kind prizes.

Since projects can be in any phase of development, there is really no limitation and so Ivette and I decided to enter the contest. Our proposed social innovation is to set up an infrastructure that supports digital literacy education in United States prisons. This would benefit society by eventually saving states millions that are currently invested in incarceration and reincarceration.

The current prison education model is dated and mostly excludes meaningful integration of technology. Failing to create an environment that allows digital literacy education to be employed leaves inmates at risk of returning our communities without the skills necessary for success in personal (e.g. managing funds, locating social services) and professional endeavors (e.g. finding a job). As a result our social innovation proposes to replicate Internet connectivity and other digital tools within prisons. This will allow prisoners to gain the digital literacy skills they will need upon release.

The innovation will call for collaboration between the Washington State Department of Corrections, undergraduate and graduate students in computer science, information science and education.

If successful, this intervention/social innovation will allow states to reallocate millions that are currently being spent on incarceration.

So help us get funding!

How to Vote for Us

It’s easy:

  1. Register (takes 30 seconds-input only name and email) at http://www.dellchallenge.org/user/register
  2. Validate your email address
  3. Vote for us here: http://www.dellchallenge.org/projects/digital-empowerment

Last Word and Final Request

The reality is that some people believe  incarcerated people do not deserve a digital literacy education. Despite this belief it is not feasible to leave them out of the digital revolution. Doing so could have detrimental effects on our communities. Furthermore,  it has been shown that providing an education to incarcerated groups has a positive effect, one of which being less of them returning to prison. On the surface this may not mean anything. But when you consider that around $50,000 is spent yearly to house each inmate you may see different.

Share this will all of your social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) we will need as many advocates as we can get.

Thank you for your support!

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