By Melissa Richardson
On October 3rd our team at Project Reclass held our inaugural HackDay. Our vision for HackDay 2020 was to create an engaging panel event to connect with people interested in the fields of criminal justice, technology, education, and military experience. In the months leading up to the event, our team assembled a panel of four distinguished individuals to discuss their roles in the fields of technology, education, military, and criminal justice. These individuals exemplify how hard work and dedication in these core areas can make a real difference for communities and individuals.
The event kicked-off with an introduction of the Project Reclass team and testimonies from our founders, Kunal Jha and Tay Nishimura, who recounted the organization’s early days and the individual experiences that shaped their vision. We then presented an overview of our network learning platform, ToyNet, to acquaint the viewers with our software and our plans for implementation. After the welcoming session, attendees were given the choice to branch into one of two breakout rooms for our more concentrated seminars — Vision Track and Technology Track — based on their areas of inclination. Those with interests in both outreach and technology had the option to jump between the two seminars to gain a broader scope of what we do with Reclass.
Technology and Vision Tracks
The technology track gave attendees a comprehensive look at how we conceptualized and developed ToyNet’s hands-on learning platform and introduced the software team whose hard work made our vision a reality. The discussion featured a more in-depth demonstration of the ToyNet platform and a closer look at both the front-end and back-end software development. Our software team also explored ToyNet’s UX design, its unique learning approach, and the benefits it has for visual learners and those who are new to networking. The session concluded with a discussion about the future of ToyNet and how we plan to implement it in prisons.
Those who attended the vision track explored our marketing and outreach strategies and gained insight as to what we do at Reclass and why it matters. Our outreach team detailed the strategies behind our brand expression, from the design of our logo, to the colors and composition of our website and the language we use in outreach materials such as our HackDay promotional video. Attendees learned how we unify our content through the use of deliberate word choice and language that reflects our values. The team also highlighted several recent interviews we have conducted with professionals in the fields of criminal justice that have brought strong informational content to our website’s Digest page. This is just one of the many ways our outreach allows us to connect with industry professionals who share our goals and want to partner with Project Reclass.
Our HackDay Panelists
Our headlining panelists, Brianne Caplan, Brandon Archuleta, Maria Thornton, and Aaron Forringer, detailed their careers and experiences, and the many ways they’ve put their expertise to use to promote vocational skills and reduce both incarceration and recidivism. They fielded questions regarding the significance of vocational programs for incarcerated veterans within prisons, the impact of recidivism on communities and individuals, and how they are working to bring opportunities to people from all backgrounds who want to grow and learn.
HackDay 2020 was both a learning experience and a resounding success for the Reclass team. We received invaluable praise and feedback from our attendees, and we are thrilled to see what the future holds for our organization as we move forward.
“First of all thank you all [for] volunteering your hours and investing in our veterans that are in prisons, what a great ministry! … I’m very impressed with the commitment.”
“Fantastic job by all the speakers. Excellent organization with a solid operating philosophy.”
“I love your website design. When I go on most company websites I feel like I’m being bombarded with buzzwords and bright lights, but the website for Project Reclass is very concise.”
Attendees offered helpful recommendations about things we can build upon in the future, such as including more detailed information about soft-skills training and granular tech talks. For the next iteration of HackDay, we hope to bring in new features along with many more successes and achievements to share. If you missed our HackDay debut, you don’t have to wait until next year! Check out the YouTube playlist we’ve compiled to hear from our panelists and learn more about our mission.
Melissa Richardson is a lifelong writer whose goal is to shed light on human rights issues and promote sustainable solutions. She holds a BA in English with a minor in Communications from Florida Southern College. In her free time she enjoys film and media criticism, writing fiction, and spending time with her family.