Prolific Kourt Giving Partner: Getting Out & Staying Out
Claire Lynch
Claire Lynch

Prolific Kourt Giving Partner: Getting Out & Staying Out

Claire Lynch, Senior iOS Engineer

This post was co-authored by Greg Daly.

Every Monday morning, the entire Prolific team gathers in our office kitchen for bagels and an overview of what’s going on at the company. We celebrate work anniversaries, welcome new hires, review new business opportunities, and share accomplishments and learnings from across our different business units. The meeting brings us together and keeps us aligned. It ensures that we enter each new week sprinting out of the gate.

We wrap up our Monday Morning Meeting with Kourt, a Prolific tradition that’s existed since our earliest days. During this time, with our Core Values listed out on the big screen, we credit each other aloud for things we’ve done well over the past week that connect to our core values. For instance someone might say, “Five dollars to The Wing team for winning an Appy Award last week” or, “Two dollars to Paul for his hard work fine tuning the details of the payment processing tool.” It means a lot to recognize one another in this public forum; it inspires us to meet and exceed the highest expectations of our teammates.

Toward the end of 2017, we figured out a way to have it mean even more. The dollar amounts associated with our Kourt credits were figurative at this point. In collaboration with our Finance Team and senior teammates who had experienced every iteration of the Kourt tradition, I advocated for Prolific to finance the Kourt credits and donate the total amount to a new charity each quarter. Since then, our good work at Prolific has been directly and tangibly connected to good work in our community.

To operationalize this, I send out a form toward the end of each quarter, requesting colleagues nominate nonprofits that they care about and that connect with our Core Values. Everyone then votes to choose the next Kourt charity. This past quarter, the team selected Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), an organization with an incredible record of reducing recidivism among young men of color through education, job training and direct employment. We hope this post sheds more light on GOSO’s important work, and why we at Prolific feel so proud to support them. Look forward to interviews with our future Kourt partners, too!

Q: For those who don’t know about Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), tell our readers a little more about what your team does.

A: Getting Out & Staying Out (GOSO) is an East Harlem-based organization supporting young men ages 16-24 as they break the cycle of the criminal justice system and realize their goals. Our work reaches participants in three places— Harlem, Rikers Island, and upstate correctional facilities— and is framed by our “Three E’s”: education, employment, and emotional well-being. Each “E” plays a critical role in the success of our participants, and all three work together to form a foundation upon which these young men can build their futures.
After completing a 2-week job-readiness curriculum, participants can take part in our on-site TASC program, college readiness program, GOSOWorks employment program, vocational trainings, court advocacy, and mental health services. Our program’s success can be directly measured by our less than 15% recidivism rate— compared to a national recidivism rate of 68% for the same age group. GOSO’s approach is holistic, with a focus on promoting personal, professional, and intellectual growth.

Q: How is GOSO thinking about opening up opportunities for program participants in the tech industry?

A: Many of our participants are interested in developing skills in tech, from IT and coding to digital marketing and communications. We partner with various organizations and companies to introduce our participants to these areas and connect them with people in the field. Recently, we took advantage of free workshops on social media and digital marketing through the “Grow with Google” initiative. We also partner with an organization called NPower, which provides internships and training for people from underserved communities looking to enter the tech field. We have a comprehensive vocational training program (security training, construction, etc.), and we hope to include tech courses in this program as well. Since tech is an ever-expanding and evolving field, GOSO staff is always working to stay engaged with the latest trends and help our participants get plugged in.

Q: Prolific is dedicated to changing the precedent of homogenous workplaces in tech. Can you talk about how GOSO’s work supports increased diversity in hiring?

A: Our Paid Internship and Internship to Employment programs through our job development program, GOSOWorks, are committed to providing job experience and meaningful employment to all of our participants. GOSO has committed to partnering with employers across New York City that share our vision that our participants can be integral members of the workforce, regardless of their background. Since most of our participants are young men of color, it stands to reason that GOSO is a strong supporter of every workplace in every job sector being diverse.

Q: We’re very excited to make our charitable contribution to GOSO this quarter. Can you share how you leverage donations to sustain and enhance your programming?

A: Financial support from individuals and corporations makes up an extremely important part of GOSO’s funding because we can direct it wherever it’s needed most. Currently, we use these gifts to sustain core programming like our two-week job readiness curriculum, GOSOWorks internships, and vocational trainings. We also use contributions like yours to enhance and grow new programs. In fact, we just utilized a recent corporate grant to pilot our brand new Leaders in Training (LIT) program, where participants who have demonstrated leadership skills are now training to become peer mentors for the greater GOSO community. Thank you for this donation that helps make our vital work possible.

Q: How is GOSO thinking about growing and making an impact over the next five years?

A: GOSO is always seeking to balance our desire for growth with our commitment to maintaining the holistic nature of our programming. Part of what makes GOSO unique is our emphasis on building strong, working relationships with our participants, and providing resources and opportunities that are based on each young man’s educational, employment, and social-emotional needs. As a program, we’re committed to ensuring that all participants are given the attention and assistance they need to succeed, and we want to avoid the kind of growth that would dilute our model.
Moving forward, we’re always looking to find new and innovative ways to prepare our participants for the jobs of the future, including tech. In order to help these young men qualify for jobs in growing industries, we work to level the playing field and open up opportunities by ensuring access to education. We’re working to develop new employer partners to provide internship and on-the-job training opportunities. And we’re continuing to build out our mental health resources to ensure our participants’ ability to cope with stress and drive their personal effectiveness.

Q: How can companies partner with GOSO?

A: GOSO has a variety of corporate partnerships as part of our GOSOCorp program. Partners work with us to provide volunteer support, consulting services, and help us to fundraise. We’re lucky to have companies in a range of industries: tech, finance, food & hospitality, and consulting. This summer, we have an exciting lineup of volunteer days with different companies — from bowling to financial literacy workshops. We are grateful for the support of the corporate community here in NYC, and are always looking to form new connections with passionate and dedicated corporate partners.

If you’re interested in learning more about GOSO’s 15 year history, check out the video below on the impact their team is making.