Bridging the Tech Gap: A Beacon of Hope for Returning Citizens in Milwaukee

In the heart of Milwaukee, a beacon of hope is shining for Justice-Involved individuals. Bridging the Tech Gap for Returning Citizens (BTGRC), a program hosted by My Way Out and Milky Way Tech Hub, is making waves in the community by providing essential tech education and support to those who need it most.


The BTGRC program has recently completed its fifth cohort, marking a significant milestone in its journey. Led by Ruben Gaona founder of My Way Out and Nadiyah Johnson, founder of Milky Way Tech Hub, the program educates Justice Involved individuals on the fundamentals of technology and computer science. The curriculum of this four-week program is comprehensive, covering everything from basic skills like using emails and PowerPoint to emerging technologies like AI (including chatGPT) and AR and VR.

BTGRC goes beyond mere education. It alsoprepares students for job placement and housing through My Way Out Services, providing a holistic approach to reintegration into society.

Why Programs Like BTGRC Are Essential

In a world where technology is rapidly advancing, the digital divide is widening. Those who have been incarcerated often find themselves on the wrong side of this divide, lacking the skills and opportunities to participate in the modern economy.

Programs like BTGRC are vital in developing an inclusive tech ecosystem. They provide a pathway for returning citizens to gain the skills they need to thrive in today’s tech-driven world. By focusing on both education and support services like job placement and housing, BTGRC ensures that individuals are not just trained but are also empowered to succeed.

Milwaukee’s Unique Need

The importance of BTGRC is further underscored by Milwaukee’s unique history. The zip code 53206 has a notorious history of incarceration, making the need for reintegration programs even more pressing.

Investing in programs like BTGRC is not just a matter of social justice; it’s a strategic investment in the community’s future.

In 2022, 2,819 individuals were returned to prison for breaching at least one of these stipulated rules. During that same time frame, 2,423 people were newly admitted to Wisconsin’s prisons on fresh sentences, as reported by the state’s Department of Corrections.

Cities like San Francisco have created successful solutions to shrinking recidivism rates through similar employment programs such as Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) . These innovative measures are necessary to significantly support the the gap between release from incarceration and stable employment. BTGRC is a program that setting Milwaukee on a similar path..

The success of BTGRC is a testament to what can be achieved with vision, commitment, and community support. It’s a model that other cities can and should emulate.

In a world where technology is a key driver of economic opportunity, programs like BTGRC are essential to ensuring that opportunity is available to all, regardless of their past. By bridging the tech gap for returning citizens, BTGRC is not just changing individual lives; it’s transforming the community and contributing to a more inclusive and dynamic tech landscape.

Milwaukee’s investment in BTGRC is an investment in its future, a future where technology is a tool for empowerment, not exclusion. It’s a future that other cities would do well to strive for.

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