About The Innovation District

Where Chattanooga’s entrepreneurs, academics, and creatives collide. 

Events Calendar

Discover activities and events in the area.

Resiliency Checklist

Everything you need to prepare your organization for a crisis.

Small Business Supports

Helping small business owners across the region.

The Edney Innovation Center

The front door to the Innovation District of Chattanooga.

Tech Goes Home

Expanding access to technology and teaching digital literacy.

Digital Access Committee

Bringing together partners to close the digital divide, together.

HCS EdConnect

Home internet at no cost to thousands of families.

Connected Communities: Orchard Knob

The OKC leverages the collective support of partner organizations to tackle the whole picture of health and wellness in the historically underserved neighborhood.

Chattamatters

Answering the most basic and most complex questions about life in Chattanooga

EMPACT Program

Preparing residents for the jobs of tomorrow, and today. 

Chattanooga Smart Communities Collaborative

Working together to identify our region’s challenges and create solutions.

Environmental Sensors

Collecting and analyzing air quality data from across our region with US Ignite.

Education (4K Microscope & Lola)

High-tech tools in Hamilton County’s classrooms.

Community Connectivity

Expanding access to the internet in homes and neighborhoods.

Tech Goes Home partnership works to reduce recidivism rates

A headshot of Monique Kuykendoll Quarterman, MBA

At the end of last month, all 12 participants from the most recent Tech Goes Home class in partnership with The BRAVE Effect graduated with a laptop, a certificate, and – most importantly – the digital skills necessary to find employment and community connectivity after incarceration.

Thanks to funding through United Way of Greater Chattanooga and partnerships with Project Return, The BRAVE Effect, and ReWake, 168 justice-involved individuals across Chattanooga have graduated since October of 2022 – with 100+ more anticipated for the next year. 

Across Tennessee, recidivism rates are approximately 46%, meaning nearly half of all people who have been incarcerated in any facility (state or otherwise) return to jail within three years, according to the Tennessee Office of Reentry.

High recidivism rates occur not just because an individual committed a new crime, but often instead because they did not meet the conditions of their parole, according to Portland State University and the Corrections and Reentry: Digital Literacy Acquisition Case Study

Unemployment rates for those who have been formerly incarcerated hover at 27% across Tennessee — nearly eight times the state unemployment rate of 3.5%.

Systemic barriers like a lack of transportation, technology, or internet access to search for employment exacerbate recidivism and unemployment rates, and intervention to address these issues is critical, explained Cameron Williams, TGH’s coordinator for the program

“Tech Goes Home’s role in this work is to provide pathways to employment and opportunity to help reduce those numbers,” Williams said. “Knowing how to use a computer isn’t just important to connect to the world when returning home, it can be the difference between finding stable employment and a support system or not. It’s about hope and opportunity for a better life.”

Tech Goes Home has worked with organizations like Love’s Arm and The Next Door, supporting justice-involved individuals development since 2015 — but a $25,000 catalyst grant through the United Way in 2022 allowed for expanded partnership with Project Return and an opportunity to re-develop classes for a population facing specific barriers, especially to employment. The partnership quickly grew to include ReWake and The BRAVE Effect,and continues to expand this year thanks to an additional $75,000 impact investment from the United Way.

For Demetrus Coonrod, founder of ReWake and a Chattanooga City Council member for District 9, the work is as deeply personal as it is impactful to community members across Chattanooga.

“In 2008, I was a scared, returning citizen,” she said, explaining that without the area resources available today, she struggled to keep a hopeful mentality and persevere — and wanted to change the experience and improve outcomes for others facing similar barriers to success.

“Through the power of partnership, we are bridging the digital divide and ensuring that those who are justice-impacted can write a new chapter in their lives, armed with the necessary tools,” Coonrod said.

“People who have been incarcerated, especially depending on the amount of time served, are oftentimes going to have different needs when it comes to technology and education,” Williams added. “It varies from person to person and their life before and after incarceration has got to be considered to truly help people make a new path for themselves.”

Digital skills are not only impactful in the job search process, but also help increase access to roles paying higher than minimum wage, improving overall quality of life while building confidence, he explained.

The National Skills Coalition recently found that more than 90% of all job postings in Tennessee require digital skills to perform the duties, but noted that workers that qualify for jobs that require even 1 digital skill can earn an average of 23% more than in a job requiring no digital skills). Moving from a job requiring no digital skills to at least 3 can increase pay by an average of 45%.

To find out more about Tech Goes Home’s program for justice-involved residents and how to partner, contact cameron@techgoeshomecha.org.

Scope of impact:

  • 1 in 3 Tennesseans has been justice-involved.
  • 1 in 2 Tennesseans has a family member that has been incarcerated.
  • Approximately 95% of the roughly 50,000 Tennesseans currently incarcerated in jails and prisons will be released.
  • More than 500 residents return to Hamilton County annually.

Additional FAQ:

What is the difference between between jail and prison?

Jails are short-term holding facilities for the recently arrested and those awaiting trial or sentencing. They are often local facilities under the jurisdiction of a city, local district, or county. Those sentenced to serve a small amount of time (less than a year) may be housed in the local jail for the duration of their sentence.

Prisons are institutional facilities where convicted offenders serve longer sentences under the jurisdiction of the state or federal government, based on the type of conviction. There are both state and federal prisons located in Tennessee.

Who operates jails & prisons?

The answer to this changes based on the facility. Many states have jails and prisons that are privately operated (usually by a corporation). Hamilton County’s facility, for example, was run privately for 36 years, but is now operated by the local Sheriff’s office. Learn more here.

How is the prison recidivism rate different from the jail recidivism rate?

The prison recidivism rate is based upon felons released from incarceration at one of the 14 state prisons. The jail recidivism rate is based upon felons released from county jails in Tennessee. Learn more about Tennessee here.

Join us for a broadband access & skills conference July 22-23:

We’re thrilled to host the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s 2024 Digital Opportunity Summit — and equally thrilled to invite you a day early, to dig into Chattanooga and Hamilton County’s digital opportunity story …