For me the holidays are always full of excitement and expectation.  I purpose to slow down to rest, spend time with my loved ones, and think ahead towards the New Year - visioning how I want to stay motivated towards my goals.

This holiday season I am feeling all of this, but with a little extra oomph in the expectation department. Mission: Launch is raising $20,000 in an online giving campaign, which kicked off on Tuesday.  

Two days ago we celebrated #GivingTuesday globally, which is a day when individuals, organizations, and communities in 68 countries come together to donate, volunteer, and bring about real change locally.  We participated for the first time. I am expecting great things to happen, even though we’ve never attempted an online fundraiser like this before.

Leading up to this point, we relied on bootstrapping and the support of early contributors. Our organization has been built with the tears of lived experience (see our story here), small to medium sized financial gifts as well as countless early mornings and late nights. We are a classic startup. If you follow us this year would make it seem like an overnight success, but we seriously hope you don’t buy into those unfounded beliefs.

Yes, 2015 was an organizational turning point but there is no such thing as an overnight success in business – whether you are a not-for-profit or a for-profit. It is true that we were selected to spread our message of civic tech, innovation, and systems thinking at SXSW in 2016. And, indeed one of our favorite moments this year was that time MSNBC sent a camera crew to our 2nd Rebuilding Re-entry Hackathon.

Our team – those working with us now and in the past- has worked around the clock to get to this stage. That said, it is time to do something we’ve never done. This year we are soliciting general donations from a broader community. We are seeking the support of you and the communities you represent.

It is not easy to talk about mass incarceration or the obstacles to a successful, sustainable re-entry. That said, when 1-in-4 Americans has an arrest or conviction record it is an issue that impacts the majority of this country – in one form or another.

“Since 1980, Congress has steadily increased the size and scope of the federal criminal code and with it the federal prison population. In that period, the federal government has added an estimated 2,000 new crimes to the books, while the federal imprisonment rate has grown by an astounding 518 percent. During the same period, annual spending on the federal prison system rose 595 percent, from $970 million to more than $6.7 billion, after adjusting for inflation.” *

General awareness of the U.S. criminal justice system is increasing, which means we no longer have to spend a significant amount of time explaining the problem. Now we can jump straight to our solution and this means that now is the time to reinforce our commitment to expediting the re-entry process in the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD region. We envision a time when returning citizens are able to quickly connect to the right services and governmental support, at the time right. We envision a time when returning citizens have access to affordable and easy-to-use tech solutions as a means to stay connected to community and resources. We envision a time when entrepreneurial training and meaningful opportunities towards self-sufficiency become viable pathways.

Whether we are comfortable talking about criminal justice or not, the national attention we are seeing now makes this time in our country critical to addressing inequity and inequality.  Seizing this moment requires resources and money is the lifeline to positively intervening in the status quo – which is often a bleak outlook for the 700,000 Americans who return home from prison or jail annually.

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all behind us I am hopeful you are ready to give, because now is the time to get out the give.

Throughout the month of December we are raising $20,000 to expand:

  • Our program Mission: LaunchPad, which was seeded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. This program will provide entrepreneurship training and business development support for returning citizens as a means to economic self-sufficiency; and,
  • Our community based solutions, which are built by hundreds of helping hands that identify the barriers faced by individuals and build prototypes.  These prototypes, when scaled and introduced citywide, enable service provides, community organizers, and government agencies to shorten the time it takes to get back on your feet when you come home.

So if you are reading this allow me to make an earnest plea for your support. Will you give a financial contribution of any size today?  Also, will you helps us spread this message and forward this post to 5 people who might also be interested in supporting tech and community-built solutions towards improving outcomes for returning citizens?

Your financial contribution and support** (today and throughout this month) will power so much of what we do, and fuel us as we work towards our vision.  Your interaction through social media, participating in our civic engagements and building reentry prototypes in conjunction with Mission: Launch and the Rebuilding Re-Entry Coalition has helped elevate our work over the past year; you empower us to amplify the message around the necessity of efficient/effective reentry tools.

To help us reach our goal of $20,000 please donate now. You can visit this weblink today through December 31st.

Every contribution helps. Even if you bought us a cup of coffee every week (the equivalent of a $20 donation) or treated us to a weekly D.C. happy hour (the equivalent of $35 donation) it helps.  “Since 1980, the annual spending on the federal prison system rose 595 percent, from $970 million to more than $6.7 billion, after adjusting for inflation.”***

In solidarity with hugs and high-fives,

Laurin N. Hodge

Executive Director

Mission: Launch, Inc.

* The Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act | Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Rep. Bobby Scott

** If you would like to learn more about Mission: Launch and the giving opportunities beyond this online campaign contact Laurin Hodge, Executive Director by email at We are able to receive:

  • General donations;
  • Gifts of stock, securities and mutual funds;
  • Planned giving
  • Sponsorship and underwriting; and,
  • Major gifts.

*** The Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act | Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Rep. Bobby Scott