Nucleos receives Phase II SBIR Grant to Improve Correctional Education Technology

Noah Freedman
November 12, 2020

Nucleos, the company helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals to create second chances through digital learning and rehabilitation, today announced it has been awarded a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (NSF SBIR) Phase II grant. This grant provides $750,000 in a direct grant as well as $500,000 in matching funds, and will enable the firm to further educational access for people involved with the justice system. The Nucleos Learning Platform is one of the industry’s first solutions to provide incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals at prisons, jails, and other correctional institutions with free and easy access to digital and blended education, training, and social and emotional wellness programs.

“As communities around the United States continue to seek strategies for reducing prison populations, ensuring these individuals have the tools to succeed once they re-enter society is a critically important issue, both for them and society at large,” said Noah Freedman, CEO and co-founder of Nucleos. “Not only does the Nucleos learning platform give those involved with the justice system access to valuable skills that aid their rehabilitation, it does so without any cost to those individuals.”

For 40 years, America’s Seed Fund, also known as the SBIR program and powered by the NSF, has helped startups and small businesses transform their ideas into marketable products and services. Each year, it awards $200 million USD in funding to entrepreneurs across the country. Its goals are to foster innovation and help create businesses and jobs in the United States, and many companies funded by this program have since gone on to tremendous success.

Nucleos is an ideal example of the type of firms for which the SBIR was designed. Nucleos has a mission to promote a more just society through wider access to education and training using specialized technology to help multiply the opportunities available to people in the criminal justice system. Unlike other companies offering similar solutions, Nucleos doesn't charge incarcerated people for access to the programs it delivers, which encompass high-quality academics, college courses, vocational training, and social and emotional wellness courses.

The Nucleos Learning Platform, available on PCs, Chromebooks, tablets, and computer labs at corrections sites, provides:

  • A one-stop platform to integrate education and training programming
  • Top-quality degree and certificate programs from a range of established providers
  • A unified learning record that stays with the individual in and out of incarceration
  • Links to outside social services, employment opportunities and employers

Nucleos’ platform makes it easy to provide access to education and training programs to those incarcerated and returning to society, thus greatly increasing the likelihood that these individuals will have better success re-integrating with society, and avoid a return to prison.

The United States incarcerates 2.2 million people, or about 1% of the adult working population, primarily as a result of decades of “tough on crime” policies that have resulted in the U.S. having the world’s largest prison population. More than 95% of these prisoners will be released at some point, and with Nucleos they get the opportunity to spend their time working toward a degree or vocational certificate. Correctional system leaders are now looking to dramatically expand education programs in prisons in order to stem recidivism and ensure these individuals have the resources they need to build new lives once they are released. What’s more, the prison population is declining at a rate of approximately 1% per year. As more of these individuals return home and re-enter society, there is an increasing amount of federal and state funding to support their rehabilitation and re-entry. By combining digital and in-person learning opportunities, we can best provide people with the tools to succeed.

About the project