U.S.-Funded DIA Lab Belize and Caribbean School of Data Empower Young Inmates through Digital Literacy Training

Participants from the Kolbe Foundation Belize Central Prison taking part in their training session. Picture by Avil Steadman, Kolbe Foundation Belize Central Prison.

8th of May 2023, Belize City, Belize   The Trust for the Americas, in collaboration with the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD) is pleased to launch a digital literacy initiative at the Kolbe Foundation, Belize Central Prison. This initiative, facilitated through its DIA Innovation Lab for Youth Belize (DIA Lab Belize), aims to equip young inmates with essential digital skills of the 21st century to enhance their employability upon release and empower them to secure a stable future. Supported by the U.S. Embassy through a CARSI-ESF grant, this project represents a significant step towards creating opportunities for marginalized youth. 

The CSOD Digital Foundations and Data Fundamentals program is a 12-week initiative comprising of four courses and 16 modules covering a wide range of topics. These include professional typing, digital communication, cyberspace security, data literacy, online marketing, and website building. Through March to June 2023, the program provided 15 young inmates with 60 hours of training.  

Rodrigo Iriani, DIA Senior Program Manager, said: "These training sessions are crucial as they bridge the digital gap experienced by marginalized youths and provide them with essential skills required to thrive in a connected world and secure employment." Additionally, one participant shared: "Now that the world has transformed technologically, I feel privileged to attend the program, so I can have access to information and the ability to cope with society and everyday life."  

Upon completion, participants received a certificate from The Trust for the Americas and the Mona School of Business and Management. Furthermore, six inmates were selected to undergo training by CSOD to prepare them to become instructors for the next cohort. The digital literacy initiative assesses students' critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, allowing them to apply their newly acquired digital skills to any given scenario.  

Patrick Robateau, a trained facilitator, shared: "I have been in prison 21 years now and didn't know anything about the internet or its usage and value. I'm being educated on digital literacy, which opens a new world to me in using technology and how it applies to everyday life."   

The digital literacy program at the Kolbe Foundation Belize Central Prison owes its inception to the vision and initiative of Mr. William Dawson, former chairman of the Leadership Intervention Unit (LIU), who dedicated his efforts to mentoring and rehabilitating juvenile detainees. His legacy will continue through the initiative's positive impact on the lives of these young inmates.  

CEO Murillo of the Kolbe Foundation explained: "Being incarcerated and still having the opportunity to participate in a training course like this, using modern-day computer technology, is truly a morale booster and gives them hope for when they are released." It is a testament to the power of individuals to make a positive difference in their communities and the lives of those who need it most.   

The DIA Innovation Lab for Youth Belize aims to build a network of youth agents of change by providing access to training, technology, mentorship, and best practices from the region. The partners involved in this initiative eagerly anticipate the positive impact it will have on the lives of young inmates at the Kolbe Foundation Belize Central Prison and their communities.  



About The Trust for the Americas: 

The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS). It was established in 1997 to promote public and private sector participation in social and economic development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our initiatives, implemented through local partner organizations, seek to improve access to economic opportunities as well as to foster innovation in vulnerable communities in the hemisphere. To this end, The Trust also promotes social inclusion and good governance. The Trust has offices in Washington, D.C., Colombia, and Canada.  

Facebook: The Trust for the Americas  | Twitter:   @Trust4Americas 


About the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD): 

The CSOD is an initiative of the Mona School of Business & Management (MSBM), premier business school in the Caribbean, that seeks to develop a comprehensive and sustainable “digital/data literacy” program aimed at underserved populations within the Caribbean, with the goal of building a stronger data culture across the region and creating essential employment skills for the emerging digital economy. 

Website: https://coi-csod.org/  


About Kolbe Foundation, Belize Central Prison:​​  

The Kolbe Foundation is a non-government and non-profit organization established in 2002 by concerned Rotarians. The foundation manages the Belize Central Prison and employs over 200 security officers and 40 civilians. The Kolbe Team is committed to maintaining high levels of security and reducing escape rates through continuous training programs for security officers. The organization's Board of Directors oversees its mission of active inmate rehabilitation, which includes education, spiritual, physical, vocational, and rehabilitation programs. The foundation's vision is to be a positive catalyst for change by rehabilitating offenders and reintegrating them into society as law-abiding and productive citizens. 

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