Mission: Launch, a social enterprise startup founded last summer to help ex-offenders with reentry, was one of six projects chosen for the first crowdfunding class on girltank, a crowdfunding website for female social entrepreneurs worldwide.
Mission: Launch founder Laurin Hodge is now raising $25,000 through girltank to build the Returning Citizens Project, a web platform ex-offenders can use to track each step in their reentry process.
Case managers and ex-offenders themselves can use the dashboard to input metrics that are data-proven to be relevant to avoiding recidivism — job skills, work-life preparedness, clothing and housing basics — and track individual risk, Hodge said last week, clearly excited about the possibilities.
As Technically Baltimore reported in August, Mission: Launch offers job training and placement for former prisoners by pairing them with business mentors in a variety of occupations. To help returning ex-offenders find relevant information, Hodge also set up i-Launch, an online Wiki cataloging reentry and job assistance programs in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
“In the beginning we thought Wiki style technology would be best, but we discovered people really needed more of a knowledge-management tool that gave the right information at the right time,” said Hodge in a follow-up e-mail.
After speaking with operators of halfway houses and ex-offenders in Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore region, Hodge discovered that former prisoners going through reentry needed something more than a Wiki in order to organize the reentry process — to keep job applications separate from rental applications, for instance — and measure personal progress against where other ex-offenders are in their reentry.
“Things like housing, transportation, clothing, community/relationship building, health/wellness all must be managed holistically,” Hodge said. “Yet without the resources to build an actionable plan and receive push notifications to help track progress or setbacks, individuals are left rebuilding in isolation.”
The $25,000 crowdfunding campaign with girltank officially begins today and goes through the end of April. Hodge estimates Mission: Launch has commitments for about 10 percent of the funding needed to complete the Returning Citizens Project, one of the two U.S.-based projects in girltank’s inaugural crowdfunding class.
On April 5, girltank will announce all six projects at the Women in the World Summit, which itself, Hodge says, is a huge opportunity to bring her idea to a global stage. For being one of the of six projects, Hodge said she could provide gifts for attendees. When she got the RSVP list, she was surprised to find Hillary Clinton and Meryl Streep among them.
Said Hodge to Technically Baltimore after an event in Fed Hill: “This is something that can make an idea into something much, much bigger.”
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