Prison Literacy Program

Roots is a student startup that wants to teach literacy to inmates by using music.

“Reading is such an important skill to have in the modern world, and more than 60 percent of inmates cannot read above a fourth-grade reading level,” said Brendan Cody, a student and company founder. “Roots is trying to change that number and believes that people in incarceration will be less likely to go back with this new skill.”

Other Roots team include Hakan Ashaboglu, Mauricio Guerrero, Ryan Belnap and Camile van Ginkel.

The students won first place at the fall ENTP 1020 Bootcamp hosted by the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the U’s David Eccles School of Business.

Fifteen teams and about 80 students competed in the Bootcamp while enrolled in he same entrepreneurship class. Teams from Chile and France also competed virtually in the competition, making this the program’s first global competition.

For winning, the Roots team was admitted into the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute’s Company Launch program, where they will receive expert advice and peer mentoring.

Roots strives to keep people from going back to prison. They are doing this through education, specifically literacy. The team has been developing a curriculum that uses known tactics infused with music. Music is the way that they attempt to bridge the socioeconomic gap between teachers and students, while leveraging the proven power of rhythm, rhyme and repetition.

“We plan to push our idea forward and help our intended market,” Cody said. “First, we are developing our curriculum and going to do some research to make sure it works the way I intend it to. Following that we are going to be looking for volunteers to help turn this dream into a reality.”

More articles like this in ‘Student Innovation @ the U!’

Find this article and a lot more in the 2018 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers and entrepreneurs.

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