Looking Back at Our Impact: Digital Skills Training with Grow with Google

In a time where digital proficiency has become increasingly important for employment, Safer Foundation in collaboration with Google offers digital skills trainings aimed at advancing economic opportunities for individuals impacted by incarceration. This initiative highlights Safer Foundation’s commitment to providing training and job placement support for individuals reentering society.

Each year, over 640,000 Americans re-enter society after incarceration. The lack of technological exposure in prison adds to the challenges they face, making digital skills increasingly important in today’s job market. Safer Foundation addresses this gap by incorporating Google’s digital skills curriculum into its existing programs, helping individuals gain the competencies needed for modern employment.

Launch and Achievements of the Grow with Google Program

The Grow with Google Program partnership with Safer Foundation began in October 2022. Originally planned as a two-year initiative to train 1,250 clients, the program surpassed this goal ahead of schedule, continuing to benefit clients through ongoing training sessions.

Since its inception, the program has assisted 1,250 clients, demonstrating the substantial impact of this collaboration. Zach Hunsinger, the Director of Training and Skills Development at Safer Foundation, has been instrumental in running the training sessions for the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP).

Digital Skills Training: Broadening Horizons

The program offers a comprehensive range of digital skills training, including:

  • Resume Writing: Teaching clients how to craft professional resumes that stand out to employers.
  • Interview Preparation: Providing tips and techniques to excel in job interviews.
  • Website Creation: Guiding participants through the process of building and maintaining a personal or business website.
  • Presentation Skills: Helping clients develop effective presentations using digital tools.

An unintended yet beneficial addition to the curriculum has been typing skills. Zach identified a significant gap in typing proficiency among students and incorporated typing lessons using TypingClub.com. This not only improved their typing speed but also prepared them better for the digital curriculum.

Building Confidence and Embracing Failure

Zach emphasized the importance of creating a supportive learning environment where students could freely make mistakes and ask questions. “I made an effort to make it as failure-accepting as possible,” he shared. “I want you to screw up here rather than with your employer. This is a safe place to make mistakes and get all your questions answered.” This approach was well-received and helped reduce anxiety among students.

Testimonials: Voices of YEP Students

The impact of the program is best demonstrated through the voices of its participants:

  • Alexis: “He taught us how to prepare a company presentation of a company that we would like to start. I called my company Lengara.”
  • Angel: “I personally learned a lot of new things such as typing, and how to make many cover letters, and resumes.”
  • Jasmine: “We would always use TypingClub.com at the beginning of class, very beneficial for me and my classmates as well.”

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of students.

Youth Empowerment Program (YEP)

The Youth Empowerment Program in Chicago employs an innovative peer teaching methodology, fostering an interactive learning environment. Over eight weeks, students not only prepare for the High School Equivalency (HSE) exam but also explore career goals and placement. Program staff work closely with participants to help them develop career plans and advance toward their life goals.

From this partnership with Google, Safer Foundation continues to break down barriers and open up new opportunities for individuals impacted by incarceration, helping them build brighter, more secure futures.