40 Under 40 Tech Diversity Executive Joins Digital Media Nonprofit Second Chance Studios as CEO

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Lajuanda Asemota Joins Second Chance Studios after a $250K Fundraise to Train the Formerly Incarcerated for New Media Careers

I feel honored to contribute my experience to an organization with the potential to transform how we reintegrate former inmates into society, while providing a path to economic empowerment.

Second Chance Studios, a digital media nonprofit that trains and employs formerly incarcerated individuals, welcomed tech diversity leader Lajuanda M. Asemota as its Chief Executive Officer in January.

Previously, Asemota launched diversity efforts at Silicon Valley think tank and incubator Singularity University before serving as the Executive Director of /dev/color, a nonprofit dedicated to the professional development of Black software engineers.

“We’re so excited to bring Lajuanda on to lead Second Chance through this critical founding phase and beyond,” said Ravi Gupta, the organization’s Board Chair and Cofounder. “She’s a rockstar with a proven track record in building and scaling innovative training models — and she brings a passion and a vision for how to bring our program to life.”

Second Chance Studios economically empowers former inmates by training them in one of the fastest growing industries in the digital era — new media. Board Member and Cofounder Coss Marte has attempted and succeeded at something similar with his groundbreaking New York-based fitness studio and brand CONBODY.

“Coming from prison, if I had an opportunity like Second Chance Studios, I would’ve been well prepared to readapt into society. I had no idea how to use new technology because I had lost years of my life and felt forced to take on manual labor jobs. Second Chance Studios offers training and employment in the media workforce and a fair chance for returning citizens to move into a new field of opportunities,” said Marte.

Consider: 53% of those released from prison in New York are rearrested within three years, largely due to insurmountable barriers to joining the workforce. The team is hoping to change that by creating opportunities in the new media space (podcasting, video, and social media). Digital media is undergoing explosive growth — with related jobs forecasting growth of up to 3x the average of all occupations in the U.S. — but lacking skilled workers to fill the roles.

“I am thrilled to join Second Chance Studios, particularly at a time when we are reckoning with systemic inequity in this country” Asemota said. “I feel honored to contribute my experience to an organization with the potential to transform how we reintegrate former inmates into society, while providing a path to economic empowerment.”

Asemota’s extensive and diverse experience in technology and education provides the leadership required to formally launch Second Chance Studios’ programming. After raising $60,000 on Kickstarter last summer and over $200,000 from foundations and donors since then, the program is slated to launch in late-Spring 2021.

For more information on how you can support Second Chance Studios, visit secondchancestudios.org.

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