The concept of teaching and turning the ideas into dreams can only help and give new life to those who otherwise have less hope.”
How the Program Came About
We considered how we could affect change by leveraging what we do every day in the free world. We work with aspiring entrepreneurs at KickLabs, our technology accelerator, to help them grow their businesses and achieve success. Our goal was to recreate this experience in prison.
As a result, and with the cooperation of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, we launched our program at San Quentin in 2011. We named the program The Last Mile because one of the most difficult, and often neglected, aspects of rehabilitation is the transition from inside the prison walls to functioning successfully in the free world. It is truly the “final step” to freedom.
The Last Mile participants are a very select group of men who have worked hard to improve themselves emotionally and intellectually. These men are determined to succeed, to give back to their communities, and to live fulfilling lives.
This program will go a long way to not only providing these guys with jobs but it is my hope that they hire people like them who have changed their lives and are now ready to contribute to society, pay taxes, follow the law, support their families, all those things contribute to the economy.”
Former CDCR Secretary at Demo Day, Spring 2012
Cofounders, Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti designed The Last Mile program to train selected participants for eventual employment in a paid internship program within the Silicon Valley technology sector. Through twice-weekly sessions over a six-month period, the program provides information and practical experiences to increase participant knowledge and awareness about the role of social media, build skills in relevant areas for employment in the high-tech sector, including communication, business formation and operations, and foster confidence and a sense of hope that they can succeed as free men.
The program includes discussions about how the digital world functions, recognizing that most men in the program have never been on the Internet or used a smart phone. Participants read books by digital media experts and interact with guest speakers and mentors from technology companies. They are also active contributors to social media sites. Through weekly tweets, blogs, and answering Quora questions, each participant develops an online presence and “personal brand” outside of their label as “prisoner.” As participants don’t have online access, their content is handwritten or typed, then uploaded by our volunteers.
For their final project, each participant must conceive a business idea and create a business plan that includes a technology component and social cause. Participants distill their plan into a succinct five-minute pitch to present to a live audience of invited guests from the outside and fellow inmates at their own Demo Day. Read more about Demo Day.