• Priorities Podcast

Seattle fund invests in tech education for the incarcerated

On this week’s episode of the Priorities podcast, Dirk van Velzen, CEO of the Prison Scholar Fund, a Seattle charity, says a recent $25,000 city grant will help his organization invest in tech education for the incarcerated.

Van Velzen tells StateScoop’s Colin Wood that the fund, which he created after being released from prison in 2015, promotes education opportunities incarcerated people, helping connect them with distance learning and chances to get a degree.

His latest initiative is designed to help Black, indigenous and other people of color gain access to basic tech education and will later offer scholarships for those interested in coding bootcamps. The $25,000 grant came through Seattle’s Digital Equity Fund, an annual program that funds technology and internet access programs serving low-income and vulnerable residents.

In the news this week:

California’s deputy state CIO will leave government later this year. Russ Nichols, who served as the state’s interim CIO before the appointment of Liana Bailey-Crimmins, will retire in November, he says. Nichols was previously the CIO for the state department of corrections, and has been in government for more than three decades.

The number of ransomware attacks aimed at local governments and health organizations appears to have slowed, according to a report from the Ransomware Task Force. The task force says there have been more than 60 documented attacks on local governments, schools and hospitals so far this year, compared with about 150 over the same period last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will distribute $401 million in loans and grants for rural broadband projects. The now-funded projects will cover 31,000 people across 11 states. 

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Priorities Podcast


Each week, the Priorities Podcast will take you through the latest in state and local government technology news and analysis. The program will explore trending stories throughout the week, as well as feature conversations with top executives across government and industry on things like modernization, emerging technology and digital services.

Hosted by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is the vice president of content and community for StateScoop and EdScoop. He's spent nearly a decade in the government IT market, covering the ins and outs of state and local government, as well as higher education. He started his journalism career in his native Pennsylvania and has also worked as a reporter for Campaigns & Elections magazine.