Recidivism is a problem everywhere, and Memphis, Tennessee, is no exception. According to the Commercial Appeal, the state boasts a 44-45 percent recidivism rate (the percentage of previously incarcerated individuals who end up back in jail within the next three years), and the city even has an Office of Reentry to help the formerly incarcerated become productive, law-abiding citizens. But a single office isn’t going to ensure that. Which is where Goodie Nation comes in.
On June 18, the Atlanta-based nonprofit, which empowers changemakers and entrepreneurs, many of them minorities, to solve problems for their own communities, is partnering with Geeked Memphis to host Goodie Ideation+ [Econ Dev]. The one-day event will harness the city’s collective power of problem-solving to come up with a dozen or more tech-focused ideas to help provide more job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated—in a span of just 12 hours.
It’s one of many such ideation labs Goodie Nation has held in locations like Atlanta and Charlotte to solve other similarly pressing community problems since the organization’s founding in 2014.
Goodie Ideation is phase I in the Goodie Innovation Lifecycle for rapidly solving problems in underserved communities. After Goodie Ideation comes the Goodie Hackathon, which is tentatively scheduled for this fall, according to Joey Womack, co-founder and executive director of Goodie Nation. It’s where developers, designers, project managers and others form teams to develop prototypes for the ideas that came out of phase 1. Finally, there’s Goodie Marketing, where the prototypes are pitched to an audience of creatives and a panel of experts.
While Goodie Nation does support entrepreneurs, the ideas that come out of the ideation labs are generally open-source, and not tied to any single individual. That said, if someone was involved in coming up with the idea and wanted to continue working on it, Womack and his team would encourage their participation.
“At the end of the process, the goal is to launch these products into the wild,” Womack says, who estimates that Goodie Nation will have helped launch 30 products by the end of the year, as a result of the ideation labs and planned hackathons in Memphis, Atlanta and Charlotte.
And Womack doesn’t want just representatives from the tech community involved. “We want to see people who are creators, makers, designers, developers, subject matter experts, people from the community and hopefully some of the actual beneficiaries themselves, whether the formerly incarcerated or their family members, or parole officers,” he says. “Because we bring so many non-tech people into the process, we are able to create this huge mashup of ideas.”
While Womack says Goodie Nation isn’t growing any bigger this year, be on the lookout for its presence in Florida and Alabama soon. Oh, and if you were wondering about the name, it’s a throwback to the Atlanta hip hop group Goodie Mob. Before his calling to social entrepreneurship, Womack worked in entertainment and nightlife.