Method skilled volunteers strategized new programs for the formerly incarcerated with City Startup Labs, hoping to close the digital divide and empower more of these returning citizens to become entrepreneurs.
City Startup Labs is a nonprofit that has focused primarily on foundational startup training and support to help young entrepreneurs create viable businesses. In the last 2 years they have been exploring and piloting a reentry program for returning citizens that have previously been incarcerated. After piloting this program in 2018-2019, they would like to look at making this a more comprehensive program which will be called Reentry Connections or ReConnex.
The ReConnex Program is a bold way to address Charlotte and Mecklenburg County’s disparities in socio-economic mobility and wealth by empowering returning citizens (the formerly incarcerated) as a new class of entrepreneurs AND Digital Service Techs who address these gaps while tackling the digital divide through an innovative social-enterprise, which also serves as a unique tool for restorative justice.
Volunteers from Method worked with City Startup Labs to strategize new programs for returning citizens with the anticipation of closing the digital divide and empowering more returning citizens to become entrepreneurs through their organization. The recommendations made as a part of this program will allow City Startup Labs to launch a social venture program that will be act as the next iteration of the organization’s ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program (REEP). Once the recommendations made during this project are implemented, City Startup Labs anticipates they will be able to will increase their ability to fulfill their mission by providing more programs to close the digital divide and increase entrepreneurship opportunities for returning citizens.
City Startup Labs Founder and Executive Director, Henry Rock shared, “Method was particularly patient with me during this undertaking, as I took them and they, me on a journey of discovery through the vision that I presented to them. What came out of this rather unique project and process was a business model for the ReConnex (Reentry Connections) social venture. But perhaps equally, if not more important is the relationship with a group of very bright people at Method, who are willing to offer their insights and expertise going forward.”
Method volunteers, Michael Ifkovits, Erin Peace, Vanina Delobelle and Lauren Todd, contributed around 100 hours and delivered a project with a marketplace value of $24,375. Ifkovits was excited to share about his experience on the project stating, “Often our projects are focused on how we can make an experience feel more seamless for a user – quality work in helping improve someone’s life in that moment. However, working with Henry and CSL allowed us to potentially improve someone’s life overall – that’s something I’ll always remember.” Peace also shared, ““Our team is greatly inspired by Henry’s vision for a new kind of social impact business that leverages technology to empower all stakeholders. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute our skills toward what we believe will be truly innovative and impactful work.”
Method – CIty Startup Labs strategic business plan team