Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital Invest $3 million in Bail Reform Startup

Nationwide, 62 percent of the jail population accounts for people who can’t afford bail, according to the Vera Institute of Justice. A lot of these incarcerated individuals are behind bars because they allegedly committed crimes at the misdemeanor level or lower. This is a significant statistic from a human rights perspective, as well as an economic one. It costs about $38 million a day to keep these largely nonviolent people behind bars, according to the Pretrial Justice Institute.

This is where Promise, a de-carceration startup that just raised over $3 million in a round led by First Round Capital with participation from Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, 8VC and Kapor Capital, comes in. Last Father’s Day, Jay-Z penned an op-ed about the bail industry and pre-trial incarceration. He noted how every year, $9 billion is wasted incarcerating people who have not been convicted of crimes.

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Promise, which is part of Y Combinator’s  current batch of startups, offers counties and local governments an alternative to holding low-risk people behind bars simply because they can’t afford bail.

For each participant, Promise provides counties with a comprehensive intake procedure and then sets up each participant with a care plan specific to them. Promise will then monitor and support participants by helping them ensure they know when they’re supposed to appear in court, and remind them of obligations like drug testing or substance abuse treatment needed. The app also helps participants access job training, housing, counseling and referrals.

Instead of a county paying to incarcerate someone simply because they can’t afford to post bail, they can use Promise to monitor compliance with court orders and better keep tabs on people via the app and, if needed, GPS monitoring devices. Counties, courts, case managers and other stakeholders can also access progress reports of individuals to monitor compliance.

Already, Promise is onboarding one county this week and is in talks with another three counties. Instead of a county jail paying $190 per day per person, Promise charges some counties just $17 per person per day. In some cases, Promise charges even less per person.

 

Bill Gates is Paying Off Nigeria’s Debt

Billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates will pay off $76 million of Nigeria’s debt through their namesake foundation. The payments, which will be made over the course of 20 years, are due to begin this year.

In 2014, Nigeria borrowed the money from Japan to fund its fight against the preventable disease. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has “agreed to repay the loan after Nigeria met the condition of achieving more than 80% vaccination coverage in at least one round each year in very high-risk areas across 80% of the country’s local government areas.”

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No new cases of polio were reported in the country in 2017. That’s a drastic change from 2012, when Nigeria had over half of all polio cases worldwide, according to the publication.

 In a recent blog post, Gates acknowledges the significant strides made towards wiping out the disease globally — 30 years ago, there were 350,000 cases of polio per year worldwide, while last year, that number dropped to just 21.
Among those paralyzed, two to 10 percent die. The Gates Foundation spent $3 billion in 2017 to help stop the spread of the disease, and names polio eradication one of its “top priorities.” In 1988, the virus was present in over 125 countries, paralyzing about 1,000 children per day. Since then, cases of polio have decreased by over 99 percent.

Charles Barkley Pledges $1M to Black Women in Tech

Charles Barkley was one of the most vocal and active supporters of Doug Jones in the race to defeat Roy Moore for a Senate seat in Alabama. Along with that, he showed his appreciation for the overwhelming turn-out of Black women at the polls in Alabama, by announcing that he will be making a hefty donation to fund the ambitions of Black women who wish to start up tech businesses.

“I’m announcing right now, I am pledging $1 million to black women in Alabama to start I.T. startups,” Barkley told the Inside the NBA panel while giving his reaction to the political developments in his native state.

How to Remain Relevant In Today's Digital Age - 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival

In the past, Barkley was criticized for taking stances that were contrary to popular opinion in the Black community, but many of his deeds have shown him to be a charitable man.

In the past, Barkley has supported such organizations as Ante Up For Africa, ENOUGH Project, Hillsides, LIVESTRONG, Not On Our Watch, Stand Up To Cancer, United Service Organization, and the Wounded Warrior Project. Back in 2016, he pledged his commitment to Black education by donating $3 million to four HBCUs (Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M University, Morehouse College and his alma mater Auburn University).

John Legend Unlocks Futures

John Legend and his nonprofit, FreeAmerica, teamed up with New Profit and Bank of America to scan the country for the most impactful returning citizen social entrepreneurs. This partnership resulted in, Unlocked Futures, a 16-month accelerator for social entrepreneurs impacted by the criminal justice system.

After analyzing hundreds of applications, eight were selected including Flikshop, an app that allows you to send postcards to an inmate from your phone, tablet, or the web.

“Though 1 in 4 Americans has a criminal record, too often are formerly incarcerated individuals locked out of job opportunities because of their past. I have seen that entrepreneurship is a viable way for formerly incarcerated individuals to build sustainable livelihoods and contribute to their communities and neighborhoods,” said Legend in a statement. “We hope Unlocked Futures will serve as a powerful tool to break through the barriers to opportunity that exist for so many who have criminal records.”

Legend seems incredibly hopeful when it comes to these entrepreneurs and assisting in the process of giving them an opportunity to grow their businesses. “It’s clear that we’ve got a long way to go but, with people like you working tirelessly to change the system, I’m optimistic.”

Check out the video below, showcasing highlights from the entrepreneurs.

Google Donates $1 Million to Chance The Rapper’s SocialWorks

Today, Grammy-winning Chance The Rapper stood among executives of Google’s charitable arm to announce a $1.5 million donation to both Chicago Public Schools and Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks.

“Our grant with Google.org helps SocialWorks provide programming that sheds light on another pathway to success for young Chicagoans,” Justin Cunningham, executive director of SocialWorks, said in a press release. “While every student doesn’t need to become a computer scientist, understanding the basics empowers them to understand the world they live in. The opportunity to help kids code to share their music, artwork and distinct point of view is at the core of our mission and an experience we look forward to providing in classrooms across the city.”

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SocialWorks is co-founded by Chance and aims to empower youth through the arts, education and civic engagement, while fostering leadership, accessibility and positivity within the youth throughout Chicago, according to its website.

With $500,000 going to Chicago Public Schools’ CS4All Initiative and $1 million to SocialWorks, Google.org Principal Justin Steele said in a press release that the grant will help teachers implement computer science and arts curriculum in their classrooms, giving the chance for students underrepresented in computer science to explore the field.

“We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression,” Steele said.

“There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve—and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions into something bigger.”

Support Victims Via Hand In Hand Now.

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The one-hour Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief telethon airs live from Los Angeles, New York and Nashville Tuesday night (Sept. 12) at 8 p.m ET with a 8 p.m PT rebroadcast on the West Coast via ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CMT and more. You can watch it here.

The televised fundraiser — which will also air on BET, Bravo, E!, HBO, iHeart Media, MTV, Oxygen, SiriusXM, Univision and Westwood One — will be raising money for those affected by both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The telethon can also be streamed live online through AOL, Apple Music, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Beats 1 and Huffington Post.

Hand in Hand has already announced more than a hundred performers and celebrities set to make appearances throughout the show, including BeyonceJustin BieberTravis Scott, Leonardo DiCaprio and many, many more. Proceeds will benefit a wide array of charities such as the Rebuild Texas Fund, ASPCA, Save the Children and DirectRelief.

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Beyoncé Teams Up With UNICEF

Beyoncé is giving back in a big way to help better the lives of African children.

 

The singer recently announced that she has teamed up with global humanitarian organization UNICEF to launch BEYGOOD4BURUNDI, an initiative to help supply water to kids in need in the landlocked East African country.

 

As part of the multi-year partnership, Bey plans to support programs that aim to improve the quality of and access to water in some of the hardest-to-reach areas of a country, where nearly half of the population struggles to find a supply of safe water. This deeply affects children, who not only become more susceptible to diseases because of a lack of water but are also forced to skip school in order to walk long distances in search of it.

“Access to water is a fundamental right,” Beyoncé said in a statement. “When you give children clean and safe water, you don’t just give them life, you give them health, an education, and a brighter future. I am committed to helping drive lasting solutions to the water crisis in Burundi.”

 

The singer is leading this effort on behalf of her philanthropy-focused brand BeyGOODwhich she started in 2013 as a way to give back and pay it forward. Now, in teaming up with UNICEF, she plans to help support the construction of new, easy-to-use wells and to improve the water and sanitation facilities in schools in four priority regions across the country.

 

“Addressing the global water crisis is one of the defining challenges of our time, and the children of Burundi are among the most vulnerable,” Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of UNICEF USA, said in a statement. “This unique partnership combines UNICEF’s decades of expertise in providing clean water to children in Burundi and around the world with the power and influence of the entertainment world to bring about social change.”