The day it came together

Jun 06, 2018

24 hours seeing a clear purpose

TLDR: If you’re interested in criminal justice reform and computer science education, I’ll be adding opportunities to support various initiatives via my newsletter which you can join here

Today is the 3 year anniversary of Kalief Browder’s suicide, who was imprisoned for 1,120 days while never being convicted of a crime. To catch up on his life and story you can watch here.

His experience always spoke to me — I don’t see how things would turn out differently if I was in his situation. He had dreams and aspirations as a young kid and was unsure of himself and his place in the world after going through such a traumatic experience.

I got the opportunity to meet his brother at a benefit event a few weeks back. The legacy that Kalief has is one that emboldens him and many others, to do the work to ensure our criminal justice system is forever changed to be one that is more just.

Akeem Browder of the Kalief Browder Foundation

Earlier that same day, I went into the Academy for Software Engineering, a computer science high school in NYC, to talk to some students. It was a OneGoal class of juniors who are working on their personal stories to send as cover letters in college applications. They were working on figuring out what was unique about them and their life that they can write about as their purpose to get into a 4 year college.

First question was about student loans *sigh*

The day before that, I was in a women’s prison, working with 45 women who were working to change their lives after being incarcerated. The program they are in uses entrepreneurship training as a catalyst to make lasting change and give purpose in their lives. They were working on their personal stories, how to speak about their incarceration, and put into context the good and bad parts to their life story.

Mentor crew for prison in CT

It struck me, that in all three scenarios, there was a similar thread of uncertainty. If they had anything to offer society. If they would be accepted. If they had the skills. A large part of getting over that doubt and overcoming difficult obstacles in that unmeasurable level of hope that can be provided systematically by many of the organizations I have been involved with.

This one day solidified the need for these organizations to continue to grow and get support, as they have a transformative capacity to affect the future. To enable young people to level the playing field in the job market through mentorship and computer science education, as well as empowering a large percentage of the 2 million incarcerated people in the US to gain skills to enter the workforce.

Here are some organizations you can check out:

Kalief Browder Foundation

Academy For Software Engineering — Computer Science High School in manhattan

Comp Sci High — Computer Science High School in the Bronx, opening in August

CSforAll — A non-profit working to get more computer science education in schools across the USA

iMentor — Non profit that helps schools get mentors for their students. Benefit event on June 13th here.

Defy Ventures — Entrepreneurship training for currently/formerly incarcerated

Paladin — Platform for pro-bono legal work

Promise — Giving counties an alternative to bail for low risk folks who can’t afford traditional bail

I’ll be adding opportunities to support various initiatives via my newsletter which you can join here

Frank Denbow

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