How Dell Technologies Helps Tech Nonprofits, Unlocked Labs and Empowr, Close the Education Gap - Fast Forward

November 20, 2023 | Blog

How Dell Technologies Helps Tech Nonprofits, Unlocked Labs and Empowr, Close the Education Gap

Around 37% of the world’s population–or 2.7B people–don’t have access to the internet. Even more don’t have the resources to succeed in an increasingly digital world. Fast Forward’s partner, Dell Technologies, connects communities with technology and resources so individuals across the globe can participate in our digital society.

“We lean on partners like Fast Forward to help us reach the innovators bringing digital services to communities around the world. Our pro bono support and collaboration accelerates digital transformation, enabling nonprofits to direct focus on their core competencies and improving living and social conditions for their communities.”

– Maia Wagner, Director US Giving and Impact, Dell Technologies

One of the most valuable resources Dell provides to nonprofits bridging the digital divide is its Pro Bono Workshops. During these two-day sessions, Dell team members work collaboratively in volunteer teams to consult and resolve a specific issue the participating nonprofit is facing. The nonprofits are left with a concrete plan to address their needs. Interested in exploring how these workshops help nonprofits build a more digitally inclusive world? Keep reading to learn how two Fast Forward alums, Unlocked Lab and Empowr, benefitted from Dell’s Pro Bono program.

Unlocked Labs

Of the roughly 2M individuals currently incarcerated in the United States, 25% have not received a high school degree and fewer than 4% have a college degree. This lack of postsecondary education results in a high likelihood of their return to prison. Unlocked Labs is on a mission to change that by building a better justice system from the inside out. Unlocked Labs’ technology makes education and training programs accessible for people in prison. Its offline education software unlocks Pell Grants and college degrees for incarcerated people.

Operating a tech nonprofit like Unlocked Labs is hard work, but connections to tech experts like the Dell team eases the burden. After working to scope their challenge, co-founder Jessica Hicklin settled on an ambitious project: define the cost operating model for the next year. The teams connected to discuss partnership models, operating costs, and more. With the support of Dell experts over the course of the two day workshop, the Unlocked Labs team walked away with a complete annual budget to help sustainably scale their program.


Black people face systemic discrimination. While education is key to economic prosperity, over 43% of Black students don’t have access to the classes needed to attend college. Empowr teaches high-paying and in-demand skills to Black students. The program focuses on skills-training in software engineering and development. By helping students obtain jobs and reach economic prosperity, Empowr is closing the racial wealth gap.

In 2022, Empowr founder Adrian Devezin participated in Fast Forward’s Startup Accelerator. After the program, he joined forces with a team of Dell experts through the Pro Bono Workshop seeking to refine his partner development strategy and effectively convey impact to donors. Together, they delved deep into Empowr’s programmatic impact and storytelling approach. Thanks to the workshop, Adrian and his team gained invaluable tools for pulling impactful data. Now, armed with a compelling narrative, Empowr can communicate their mission and vision more effectively to prospective funders, driving their social impact mission forward.

“The workshop completely changed how I will tell stories and fundraise for Empowr over the next year. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to connect with amazing Dell volunteers to help me work through my strategy. The support I was given was great and I would definitely do it again.”

– Adrian Devezin, Founder, Empowr

Building a digitally inclusive world is hard–but essential–work. Dell is significantly advancing digital inclusion by collaborating with schools, governments, nonprofits, and private organizations. These workshops and partnerships empower tech nonprofits with essential support and resources, enabling them to serve vulnerable populations effectively. The success of Empowr and Unlocked Lab’s experiences are just some of many. Fast Forward is proud to work with Dell to help tech nonprofits move their missions forward.