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Enrichment Night at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility

News , Services for Women , Spotlight , Women's Programs | Jan 28, 2020 | Back to List

Enrichment Night is a monthly event Vermont Works for Women hosts at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF). The event allows participants to hear from a professional about their work, to learn about barriers and challenges presenters faced along their path, and to consider any tools or strategies that helped presenters reach their goals, overcome challenges, or be successful in their career.

Maureen McElaney

VWW hosted another successful Enrichment Night on December 17th. Maureen McElaney, a Developer Advocate at IBM, taught a lesson: “Intro to Tech”.

Maureen presented a brief overview of tech from how the internet works to what is the “cloud”, and led a hands-on workshop to map out an app that would make life inside the prison better. Using sticky notes, the women worked together to develop ideas for an app, some of which included: a resource finder, dictionary, messaging between units, grievances reporting, program calendar, mediation/yoga videos, and educational classes.  The creativity in the room was palpable. It was equally illuminating for us to see the dearth of resources these women had inside.

Maureen also talked about the employment opportunities the tech industry can provide for women with a criminal record. She shared her personal story of working her way into tech starting out as a computer helpdesk rep to teaching herself coding to landing a job at IBM in their Artificial Intelligence department – all without a computer science degree!

We had a turnout of 15 women who were eager to learn. Below, are a few takeaways from our survey:

  • “Haven’t even thought much of a career in tech, and I think it’s pretty cool”
  • “Wish there could be a weekly workshop for like a few weeks in a row on the same field”
  • “I would like to learn more about tech and use it toward my future”
  • “Interested in learning more about coding”
  • “Keep these workshops coming”

As we were packing up, one woman came back to share her appreciation for these opportunities: “there are a lot of brilliant women in here and it was thrilling to see women’s eyes light up.” It is clear that the women are yearning to learn more about tech!

Mapping out an app that would make life inside the prison better
Women working together to develop ideas

“I’ve never really knew what I want  to do for a living/career and this has reminded me there are MANY MANY possibilities”

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