Author Archives: Maab Ibrahim

Helping people impacted by the justice system

On a visit to Indiana Women’s Prison in 2018, I joined a ceremony for graduates of The Last Mile, an organization preparing people for successful reentry through business and technology training. It was my first time attending a graduation inside, and I listened and was inspired as each graduate shared their determination to succeed in spite of the many challenges they might face after release.

Each year, 640,000 people are released from prison only to be met with an unemployment rate that is five times the national average. This rate is even higher for Black, Latino, and low income individuals, who are disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration. Devastatingly, more than half of those released from US prisons don’t land a job in the first year of returning home, in part because they don't have the necessary digital skills to compete in an ever-changing job market.

Since 2015, Google has supported many aspects of criminal justice reform with over $48 million in grant funding and 50,000 pro-bono hours. But there’s more work to be done. Today, we’re committing more than $8 million in new funding that will support job seekers impacted by the justice system with digital skills training and automatic record clearance.

The Grow with Google Fund for Justice-Impacted Communities will make more than $4 million available for nonprofits to lead Grow with Google workshops and trainings. Using a curriculum co-curated with five justice-reform-focused partners, our goal is to help 100,000 people impacted by the justice system build career skills–ranging from fundamental skills like finding and applying for jobs online, making a resume using web-based tools, or building a professional brand, to more advanced topics like using spreadsheets to budget for a business.

To accelerate jobs access for formerly incarcerated people, is providing a $3 million grant and a full-time team of Fellows who will work pro-bono to support Code for America. Code for America works with community organizations and government to build digital tools and services, change policies, and improve programs. Fellows will work alongside Code for America to help transform the process of automatically clearing criminal records; creating a replicable model to better identify and expunge past records through CFA's Clear My Record initiative. is also granting $1.25 million to the National Urban League and Justice through Code, two organizations focused on providing skills training to formerly incarcerated job seekers beginning their careers in tech.

Three years after The Last Mile graduation I attended, it was an honor to sit down with Molly, a graduate who learned digital skills using Grow with Google’s curriculum. She is now employed as a Returned Citizen Advocate at The Last Mile.

Here’s what Molly had to say about her involvement with the program:

When you started learning digital skills at The Last Mile, where were you at in life?

I had just been released from Indiana Women’s Prison and was on a mission to find a new career. I was applying for multiple jobs while also looking for educational opportunities that would help build my skills and knowledge.

How comfortable were you with tech before and after you went inside?

I was incarcerated for three years. When I went in, I felt like I was very tech fluent, but when I was released, it seemed as though the entire tech world had changed. There were new norms and even how email was done felt unfamiliar. Different platforms and software were being used and I felt overwhelmed.

What was a highlight of the program?

The most important class that I took was a learning path called “Basic Digital Skills.” It helped me learn how to use documents and email efficiently. This was reinforced by The Last Mile because we regularly use both of these when communicating and collaborating.

What’s next for you?

Since participating, I secured a job as a Returned Citizen Advocate at The Last Mile. I went from using what I learned (like how to) write a resume, cover letter, apply for a job and interview, to securing a role that allows me to help other members of the community.

I’ve had the opportunity to pay it forward. Alumni are encouraged to participate in the program once they are released from prison. Because I have first-hand experience with the program, I can assist them with any questions and talk about the value and importance of each lesson or learning path from personal experience.

In the future, I plan to continue to support people that are returning to society, and to help people learn digital skills and expand their knowledge. My passion is to help those coming after me to be able to create and build the best future for themselves that is possible.

Providing support to LGBTQ+ organizations worldwide

LGBTQ+ organizations around the world extend critical services to their communities every day. I’ve seen this firsthand in my work on the team, where I support organizations challenging bias and exclusion to advance social justice. As diverse as the local communities they serve, these organizations create cherished spaces to embrace our intersections and individuality, organize against injustice, and provide access to services. For the most vulnerable LGBTQ+ communities, including Black+ communities experiencing the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and racial injustice, these spaces and services are essential.

Today is donating more than $1.2 million to over 70 local LGBTQ+ organizations around the world—many of which are located in cities around the world where Google is proud to call home. Read on to learn how some of these grantees are meeting heightened health, social and economic risks impacting LGBTQ+ communities during this time, providing year round resources and support, and celebrating Pride.

Sheldon Darnell, Austin Black Pride, (Austin, Texas)
Our mission is to transform the living and social environments of LGBTQ+ people of color, with a focus on Black LGBTQ+ individuals. We focus on facilitating culturally-specific programs, policy, advocacy, and relationship building at the intersection of being both Black and LGBTQ+. While, this year, we had to cancel our annual Austin Black Pride celebration, we have been holding mental and spiritual wellness check-ins for our community to connect with licensed and trusted professionals. During a time where our community is on the frontline pushing for justice, it is important that we hold space to check in with ourselves and each other.

Rachel Kesley, Anaya Robinson, Marvyn Allen, Transformative Freedom Fund(Denver, Colorado)
Our mission is to support the authentic selves of transgender Coloradans by removing financial barriers to transition-related healthcare. COVID-19 has acutely impacted our community—gender-affirming surgeries have been rescheduled after years of waiting, and there are increased barriers to accessing necessary medical care or hormones. The isolation from COVID-19 is also particularly difficult because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride March, led by trans women of color, including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major. Though the loss of the march this year is devastating, we’ll engage with our community with unapologetic authenticity—the gift that makes our communities better, stronger and more beautiful.

Dameyon Bonson, Black Rainbow, (Australia)
At Black Rainbow, we provide advocacy and leadership to Indigenous Australians who identify as LGBQTI. We’re a virtual volunteer group with members located across the country. We work to identify, address and alleviate a range of health outcomes in the community, including the prevalence of suicide and non-suicidal self-harm. During this period of increased stress and isolation, we’re strengthening our response through a soon-to-be-circuited Indigenous LGBQTI+ survey related to the effects of COVID-19. The findings from this survey will be shared publicly to bolster the services that Indigenous LGBQTI+ people access.

Khuresha Ally, Pride of Africa(Johannesburg, South Africa)
Pride of Africa exists to liberate every LGBTQ+ African so they can live their most authentic life. One way we do this is hosting Johannesburg Pride, the oldest and biggest annual pride celebration in Africa. Pride is a place where Africans come to feel supported, hopeful, and seen. It also provides access through relevant partnerships for medical services that are often life sustaining for our community. But, right now, as the most reputable LGBTQ+ organization in Africa, we’re raising funds for food and housing accommodation during a time when many in our community are going hungry and losing their jobs due to COVID-19.

Gloria Careaga Pérez, Fundación Arcoiris(Mexico City, Mexico)
We educate and influence stakeholders on the importance of protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Mexico to achieve social justice and equality. In Mexico, there’s widespread discrimination and violence aimed at the LGBTQ+ community—which is why visibility and education are key to our mission of achieving equality. This year, we’re deepening our efforts to fight and report hate crimes and also planning a virtual parade for the city’s 42nd march. Celebrating Pride is an essential part of recognizing our historical struggles, and we’re using the opportunity to expand our reach beyond Mexico City and call for a fairer world for LGBTQ+ people.

Belle Haggett Silverman, Bisexual Resource Center(Boston, Massachusetts)
The BRC provides support to the bisexual+ community and raises public awareness about bisexuality, pansexuality, and other non-monosexual identities. Our office overlooks the plaza in Boston where Pride is held, and it’s tough to think about not celebrating in-person this year. Instead, we’ll engage with our community by holding virtual gatherings. We’re hopeful that even though this Pride will be different, we’ll find ways to be together. Anyone is welcome to send in their short videos honoring Pride, which we’ll share as a bisexual+ pride montage on social media.

Karyn Skultety, Openhouse(San Francisco, California)
At Openhouse, we provide housing, services, and community engagement for LGBTQ+ seniors, who are one of the most at-risk populations for COVID-19, and face detrimental effects from long-term isolation. We’re finding ways to connect these seniors with others, including over 1,000 support calls with every senior who has walked through our door and a socially-distanced drag show for residents to watch from their windows. It was amazing. Like other organizations, our annual Pride activities will look different this year, but we’re keeping important traditions like our intergenerational Trans March, which will be virtual this year.

This year, I will be honoring the tradition of Pride by remembering the Black+ queer leaders who stood up at Stonewall and reflecting on my role in advancing justice today. I hope everyone finds a way to honor Pride that is meaningful to them, representing the traditions, struggles, and joys of their community.