AnnieCannons Software Training Program for Survivors
Where economic opportunity provides survivors the opportunities necessary to sustain a lifetime free from exploitation and abuse.
Pitch us on your solution
Survivors of exploitation and abuse require economic power and independence to secure permanent freedom from victimization. By training abuse survivors in high-demand software programming skills, then finding and managing contract-based work for them, AnnieCannons leverages the $1.5 trillion software services market to drive economic independence into the hands of survivors. AnnieCannons is a new kind of software development company that gives our corporate clients the opportunity to make a positive social impact while receiving high-quality, affordable software coding performed by well-paid developers. As well, AnnieCannons is a new kind of software incubator; our developers also build unique software tools that are specifically designed to assist marginalized people affected by poverty, discrimination, and violence. AnnieCannons changes the lives of survivors by freeing them from economic dependence on abusers and by building innovative software that helps those suffering on the margins of society.
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What is the problem you are solving?
In the most recent report by the San Francisco Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, 673 cases of trafficking were identified by 22 agencies serving survivors in 2017 - but this is only a fraction of the survivors awaiting economic opportunity in a single city, most of whom never reach an agency. Furthermore, despite local census data that shows that people of color make up only 48% of Bay Area communities, the Task Force found that 81% of those trafficked and served by local service providers were people of color, predominantly women. Intimate partner violence survivors make up 32.9% of California women and 27.3% of California men. Survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence, particularly women and people of color, face significant barriers to employment due to stigma and discrimination because of crimes committed against them. Most survivors have experienced a lifetime of oppression and marginalization before they are abused by a trafficker or partner. Traditional classrooms and workplaces are not structured to counteract the effects of a lifetime of abuse and discrimination to enable previously-marginalized populations to access high-skill incomes - but AnnieCannons is.
Who are you serving?
Survivors in the AnnieCannons program are 98% female identified, 84% women of color, 61% mothers and 100% survivors of trafficking or gender-based violence. Over 50% of our staff are survivors who trained in our program before joining us as employees. Informed by their lived experiences and intersectional identities as women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, people of low socioeconomic status and people with disabilities, survivors in our program provide feedback and consultation to constantly improve the structure of AnnieCannons programs - both the delivery of classroom learning and the invention of technology products designed with the benefit of abuse survivors’ lived experience to create a world without abuse. Their contributions to the organization’s sustainability and growth are a deep reflection of their commitment to creating more than new lives for themselves. Their work and innovation contribute to the organization's ability to offer opportunities for stability, safety and a life free from exploitation and abuse to other survivors with similar lived experiences - and display the brilliance survivors have to offer.
What is your solution?
Earning. Students who succeed with this material can begin paid work with AnnieCannons’ clients or seek outside jobs. While working for AnnieCannons, graduates continue to learn increasingly advanced software skills, including full-stack development, through advanced classroom workshops and project-based learning. Graduates are continuously challenged to acquire more sophisticated, higher-paying software development skills. Graduates can earn between $75 and $125 per hour once they hone their skills through practice, and can also be hired as AnnieCannons employees full-time.
Building. To apply classroom concepts in a practical way, each class engages in an exercise to design a tech solution that solves a problem particularly important to survivors of violence. Promising ideas receive founder coaching, an opportunity to pitch investors, and ongoing support from AnnieCannons’ team to grow. Graduate developers are paid to work on these technologies of vital importance to them as a component of their economic empowerment. By developing products that mitigate abuse and exploitation, these projects empower our students to recognize that their work on software can help protect others from the trauma that they experienced.
By training survivors on in-demand technology skills, then sourcing and managing contract-based work providing earning opportunities with high growth potential, AnnieCannons leverages the $1.5 trillion software engineering services market to drive economic power into the hands of survivors. AnnieCannons’ agency gives enterprises the opportunity to make a positive social impact while receiving high-quality, affordable software and data services using existing outsourcing budgets. It is also a model for a new kind of software incubator - one that creates experts from the communities most affected by issues like poverty, discrimination, conflict and violence, then positions those experts to effect solutions.
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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Oakland, CA, USA
Our solution's stage of development:
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
No other organization offers highly-skilled training or high-income work opportunities to survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence.
Coding bootcamps are expensive and require time without income most marginalized people cannot afford. They also require a level of computer literacy that survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence have not had any opportunity to acquire.
Many organizations conduct training in computer programming for marginalized groups, but none ensures that those skills are effectively monetized. Most of these organizations have no idea whether beneficiaries continue in technology education or careers - and no idea how discrimination continues to marginalize them in the workplace.
Some organizations provide career training and work opportunities for survivors, but none of these teach high-paying, challenging skills such as computer programming. Most training programs for survivors focus on low-skill, low-pay work like sewing or jewelry making. AnnieCannons does not underestimate survivors’ potential or talent.
AnnieCannons is the only program that successfully combines high-skilled training for survivors with measurable, deliberate increases in earned income over a lifetime. This means we are the only program that both starts and finishes the solution to economic and social oppression survivors experience. We receive inquiries multiple times per week seeking our help in allowing other organizations to recreate our success, and we offer our trauma-informed curriculum free and open source to help them do so. Yet, to date, no other organization of any kind has succeeded in both training and employing survivors for long-term careers as software developers.
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
AnnieCannons theory of change is that economic independence derived from software development skills ends abuse and exploitation for survivors and their children. Training prepares survivors to acquire economic power by obtaining professional skills that are highly in demand. Survivors start to earn money - and gain economic power - through hourly work, with their pay rising as they continue their education through AnnieCannons’ increasingly advanced skills workshops. Additional resources we provide - like childcare, food, and transportation assistance - facilitates survivors’ acquisition of economic power and amplifies the capacity of that economic power to end exploitation.
Over 5 years, we have seen this theory of change succeed. For example, trafficking survivors in our pilot class explained that they had exited their exploitation, reached services, and then were re-exploited 3-7 times before they found us. Yet not a single student who finished AnnieCannons training and qualified for development work has been re-exploited. We know this because they are all still working for AnnieCannons as either contractors or employees.
We’ve also validated the effectiveness of our teaching. Over 5 classes, our graduation rates went from 33% to 100%, and our work qualification rate went from 16.66% to 80%. In 2019, our top monthly graduate income was $9,197. The efficacy of our training was doubly validated by alumni qualifying to teach new students. In our sixth cohort, underway now, all of the classroom instructors and TAs are graduates of our software training program - a milestone where survivors are teaching survivors.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
We are currently serving 26 students who are active members of our training program or past graduates working as developers in our mission-driven development shop. By the close of 2020 we will be serving approximately 40 to 50 students including the addition of students who will join our program in upcoming cohorts this year. Within 5 years, we project that we will be serving between 150 to 250 students and graduates working in various roles and engaging in every level of training our organization offers, from front-end development skills in our bootcamp to full-stack development skills in our advanced workshops.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Our long-term goals include covering 100%+ of our operating overhead with revenue generated through our development shop, expanding first nationally and then internationally, and growing our SurviveTech Incubator to amplify our graduates' ability to help create a world without abuse and exploitation for millions more survivors.
This year, we plan to improve on our 80% qualification rate, maintain a 100% graduation rate, train 3x as many survivors as in prior years, and continue training more graduates to become solo class instructors. We are on track to exceed $1 million in revenue from our software development shop, and plan to deliver over $1 million in economic power to survivors on both these projects and charitably-funded impact technology in 2020.
At present, we generate commission revenue on our software development shop projects that is reinvested in training more survivors. Over the next 3-5 years, we project this revenue will more than cover our operating overhead.
In 2021, we will open a new training center in a second U.S. city, with an aim to become an international organization in the next decade.
Both this year and beyond, we are accelerating our fundraising efforts for our SurviveTech projects - incubated technologies to fight abuse and exploitation - and aim to have these technologies collectively reach at least 100,000 survivors over the next few years.
We will also publicize the amazing technology built by our graduates to prove their talent and begin counteracting the victim-shaming that otherwise keeps survivors marginalized.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
The primary barrier we face is bias. Potential software development clients routinely underestimate the ability of survivors to do complex work. Sadly, many funders share this bias and do not believe survivors can acquire advanced skills. Our ability to scale our success depends upon resources we can only acquire if both funders and clients see that we have already succeeded at enabling survivors to earn high incomes through excellent and complex work.
Another significant barrier is the nature and quality of other support services available to survivors. No one can effectively learn when worried about where they are sleeping or where their next meal is coming from. We rely on other providers to provide these necessities before referring students to us. Flaws in other support services can be a barrier to student success.
Immigration laws which prohibit survivors from working while awaiting visas or even render survivors improperly stateless are a major barrier to their economic empowerment.
Lifetimes of systemic oppression also create a barrier in the form of survivor self-doubt. In particular, most survivors have been psychologically conditioned to see themselves as weak and incapable and find it hard to establish confidence in themselves.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
Bias. To overcome bias, we use techniques honed by women and minorities over time. We must be better than the competition to be seen as having equal value. We work harder, and spend more time proving we have done what we have done than others. Fortunately, the more top-notch portfolio projects we launch, and the more survivors who earn high income though us, the easier it becomes to prove it.
Other services. In addition to increasing our partner vetting and training, we are developing technologies designed to support survivors identify and connect to the highest-quality service providers available. Our platform allows survivors to match with a provider offering services they are eligible for and who meets their expressed needs and goals, keeping them connected to care and providing an exit-ramp from their abuse and exploitation.
Immigration. We coordinate directly with, and forge connections among, legal aid providers serving individual survivors to help those individuals begin a career as early as possible while they seek work authorization or visas.
Systemic Oppression. To combat the effects of a lifetime of marginalization, we use a variety of classroom and workplace techniques to build self-confidence and limit self-criticism. Psychologists have helped design our programs. We conduct live practical exercises that teach mindfulness and use physical acts to enhance feelings of self-worth, and we work daily to build a community of both peer and instructor support that helps grow self-confidence. Much more detail about our methods is available upon request.
If you selected “My solution is already being implemented in one or more of ServiceNow’s primary markets,” please provide an overview of your current activities in those markets.
AnnieCannons currently operates in the United States. Our primary services include a software development training program providing survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence with technology skills from front-end to full-stack web development. We also provide survivors who graduate from our program with economic power through employment and contractor positions in roles that range from data analysts to web developers. We run a mission-driven software development shop in which many of our developers work on complex client technology products sourced by AnnieCannons, as well as products conceived of and designed by students and alumni. This structure allows us to offer transformative impacts for the survivors in our program, their families and our communities on a massive scale.
If you selected “I am planning to expand my solution to one or more of ServiceNow’s primary markets,” please provide an overview of your expansion plans. What is the market opportunity for your business or product here?
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If you selected Other for the organization question, please explain here.
How many people work on your solution team?
We have 9 full time staff, 3 part time staff and 8 contractors working for our organization. We are proud to have recently increased our full time employees by over 100% and offered more roles to graduates from our program.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
Our team is led by co-founders Jessica Hubley and Laura Hackney. Jessica, (Stanford Law School JD 2008) is an attorney and entrepreneur, and advises emerging internet, cloud, and digital media companies on general commercial matters, with a particular focus on privacy and security software compliance issues, IP management, and distribution strategies. Laura (MA, Stanford University 2013) is a full-stack software engineer who leads our technical team and coding training program with previous experience managing the Program on Human Rights at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute, the SFPD Special Victims Unit, and anti-trafficking groups.
Additionally, our teaching team is led by graduates of our program with extensive experience providing education to children and adults. Their unique skills and capacity to best understand the needs of students in our classroom, positions them to have a great impact on the success of each student in our software development training program.
We believe that wherever possible survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence should have the opportunity to lead and inform work with other survivors. We aim to hire as many graduates from our program for roles at AnnieCannons and understand the strength their power and innovation brings to our work.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
AnnieCannons engage multiple partners to create a network of comprehensive services that cater to the specific needs of survivors. These partners help identify and invite eligible participants to apply for our software development training program. We partners with housing programs throughout Alameda County, such as Ruby’s Place and Covenant House, to ensure students’ basic needs are met. With stable housing, AnnieCannons students are able to shift their attention away from where they are going to sleep that night or where their next meal will come from, and towards their growth and development as emerging software professionals. We also partner with community-based organizations such as the Family Justice Center, the Young Women’s Freedom Center and DreamCatcher’s Wellness Center. These organizations provide survivors with connections to mental health support, physical health services, legal services, benefits assistance and case management.
For survivors, these resources are crucial as so many remain trapped in abuse and exploitation due to a lack of options. Shelter and holistic services provided through local partner organizations, paired with training and economic power provided through AnnieCannons, gives survivors a real opportunity to secure a lifetime free from abuse and exploitation.
What is your business model?
AnnieCannons trains survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence in front-end and full-stack development skills with the support of grant funding and a nominal portion of our earned revenue from paid client work. Our business model prioritizes offering economic power to survivors at each milestone of the program, deliberately linking their newly acquired skills to increasingly complex and well-paid work opportunities. Most of the economic power we provide is through paid client work that AnnieCannons finds and manages. An additional portion of economic power is delivered to survivors through grant-funded technologies designed and created by students and alumni in our program. Operating costs are covered by a combination of grants, individual donors and a portion of our revenue.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
AnnieCannons is on our way to financial stability in our operations. While we currently fund a substantial portion of our operations through grants and individual donor contributions, we are working to shift towards funding more of our operations through earned revenue from paid client work. AnnieCannons finds and manages the paid client work, which is carried out by graduates of our program. As we train more survivors, offer increased economic power and build our growing client portfolio, we aim to fund 100% of our operational costs through earned revenue and provide the remaining earned revenue directly to graduates working as developers at AnnieCannons.
Why are you applying to the Digital Workforce Challenge?
We believe a partnership with ServiceNow could support AnnieCannons in further enhancing our business model. We also believe ServiceNow could offer mentorship and support in our work to build social impact technologies aimed at solving problems in our community that survivors in our program have faced. With ServiceNow’s growing platform we believe ServiceNow's experience in managing a successful business, in making strategic decisions and developing a product that meets the needs of their users can inform AnnieCannons’ growth and innovation. We also believe our developers could learn from the developers working for ServiceNow in building new and complex software.
We also see ServiceNow as a leader in the industry that has the capacity to leverage their power to promote greater diversity and inclusion in technology, helping companies not just see the value of employing women, people of color and members of other marginalized groups, but truly implementing plans that result in more opportunities for marginalized groups to have representation and decision making power in the technology industry.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
If you selected Other, please explain here.
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
At AnnieCannons, we believe partnership with other community-based organizations and companies is the key to creating meaningful change and opportunity for survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence. We wish to enhance our partnership in three key areas: 1) With Service Providers, 2) With Survivor Leadership Organizations and 3) With Diversity in Stem Groups. These include organizations and companies offered an array of services and resources including shelters, case management, therapy, legal aid and advocacy. While our circle of partnership is strong and ever evolving, a few people who we’d like to connect with more deeply or meet for the first time include Bay Area organizations such as Larkin Street Youth Shelter, Justice At Last, and Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, as well as National Survivor Leadership organizations such as Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS) and the Freedom Network. We also would like to connect with other organizations working to bring software development education to marginalized communities, including Code2040, Hack the Hood, Girl Develop It, Women Who Code, Code for America, Mother Coders, Change Catalyst, and Black Girls Code.