APDS and Amazon Web Services Announce Results of the First Cloud Certification Program Available inside D.C. Department of Corrections

January 24, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, APDS, an ed-tech public-benefit corporation enabling innovative technology and certifying career-readiness for justice-impacted individuals, announced the results of a cloud certification pilot program implemented inside the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC). In collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), learners in the pilot program were invited to participate from D.C. DOC’s ‘Lead Up!’ which is a leadership, education, and development program designed to help justice-impacted individuals within one to two years of their release, with comprehensive support that will assist them in reducing recidivism and increasing employment opportunities. The first cohort of learners achieved an 85% pass rate on the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification exam. 

“We are grateful to the D.C. DOC and Dr. Amy Lopez for partnering with APDS, to educate and equip incarcerated individuals for successful reentry,” stated Arti Finn, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer for APDS. “Our collaboration with AWS provides a forum for justice-impacted individuals to develop valuable enduring skills and credentials that will provide an opportunity to attain a living wage career. It’s my personal mission to transform the corrections industry from warehousing to rehabilitation, and this pilot, with a transformational jail committed to programming, brings us one step closer.” 

The program is one of several transformative steps that the D.C. DOC is taking to ensure that the justice-impacted have access to skills training and educational opportunities that can open pathways to new careers. Through this program, learners were taught foundational cloud computing skills through the AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials course on AWS Skill Builder that includes more than 500 free courses and learning plans, self-paced labs, practice exams, role-based games, and more. Participants were able to access the course using APDS’ secure tablets which are already in use in more than 100 correctional facilities across 18 states in the U.S. 

“Education and skills training initiatives like this are critical components of upward mobility,” said Maggie Carter, Director, Global Social Impact at AWS. “Providing free access to AWS cloud computing courses can provide the foundation and inspiration needed for justice-impacted individuals to pursue meaningful employment. This is the first time AWS has delivered skills training inside a correctional environment, and we are proud to collaborate with APDS to empower individuals through this transformative technology experience.” 

Education and vocational skills training have been shown to reduce recidivism, and foundational knowledge in cloud computing offers marketable skills for in-demand tech jobs. Throughout the program, APDS and AWS incorporated job readiness training into this experience, where learners participated in mock interviews and had access to in-person guest speakers to learn additional professional skills.  This included resume-building support from APDS, and as participants near release they can work with DOC staff to apply to training programs and/or jobs. 

One of the participating learners, Julian Blair, has a particularly accomplished past from winning football and track championships in high school, earning a full-ride scholarship, graduating college, to playing pro football. He said “This cloud computing certification will start a new chapter in life for me that I never would have thought possible. This is giving me a new avenue and direction for a career to support my son.” 

As part of reentry support, all participants are expected to join ‘Lead Out!’ where they can access additional services. All ‘Lead Out!’ participants will continue to have access to APDS tablets and content, as well as hundreds of AWS digital courses and learning paths where they can advance their education. 

APDS has been using AWS cloud computing services to power its career readiness programs for several years. This initiative which was started by Amazon’s Black Employee Network (BEN) President Anthony Cole, builds on an ongoing collaborative effort. Cole said, “We’re proud to expand our collaboration with APDS, to help justice-impacted learners gain valuable tech skills. This is a great example of how Amazon empowers our internal organizations to build initiatives that support the communities in which we live and work, that can be scaled into truly impactful work”

Following the success of the initial pilot, APDS will look at expanding this program in the future. To learn more about APDS, visit https://apds.works/ 

About APDS

Founded in 2014, APDS’ mission is to prepare every justice-impacted individual for a living wage career. Through our career readiness platform, we use our proprietary “Whole Learner Framework™” to deliver assessments and plans that motivate and engage the justice-impacted to effectively educate and equip in their pursuit to empower themselves and strengthen society. APDS leverages innovative technology that fosters growth and certifies career-readiness.

APDS is a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) and certified B-Corporation, based on a philosophy that never charges incarcerated individuals or their friends and families for its technology or services. Currently, APDS products and services are deployed in 18 states, including the District of Columbia, impacting hundreds of facilities and thousands of justice-impacted across the United States. 

To learn more on APDS.works.


Justin Goldstein, 516-578-8623

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LaToya Newson is a trailblazer in the field of adult education, with a wealth of experience in corrections education programming. She spearheaded the creation of the Reentry, Employment, Adult Education Program (Project REAP) – a groundbreaking initiative aimed at curbing recidivism by providing education and training to justice-impacted individuals. This innovative program provides incarcerated individuals with the tools and resources they need to complete their high school equivalency exam, preparing them for success upon their release.

Born and raised in D.C, Chris grew up under extremely difficult circumstances. At the age of 17, he was charged with a crime, convicted, and sentenced to natural life in prison. While incarcerated, he earned his high school diploma, graduated from all of the vocational shops, earned an Associate Degree and started his Master Plan, a roadmap for his future. After serving 16 years in prison, Chris wrote and published The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose to inspire other justice-impacted individuals to achieve their fullest potential.

As CEO of APDS, Harris oversees all aspects of the company’s operations. His expertise, leadership, and vision have made him a respected figure in the education industry, and he continues to drive forward his mission of using EdTech to make a difference in the lives of justice-impacted individuals. Harris has a deep understanding of the unique challenges of EdTech in corrections, and he is passionate about leveraging technology to create innovative solutions that can help transform the lives of students and educators alike.

As Chief Revenue Officer of APDS, Mott ensures the successful delivery of evidence based programing to the states and jurisdictions serviced by APDS. In this role, Mott is instrumental in driving long-term change in recidivism and positive learner outcomes. She is a passionate advocate for free individualized programming for justice-impacted individuals.

A passionate advocate for social justice and education, Arti Finn co-founded APDS in 2013 with the ambitious goal of creating pathways to living-wage employment for individuals affected by the justice system. Under her visionary leadership, APDS has revolutionized the edtech landscape within the correctional environment, providing high-quality programming at no cost to justice-impacted individuals or their families in hundreds of facilities across 18 states.


As Chief Strategy Officer, Arti skillfully directs the company’s policy, government relations, marketing, and public relations efforts while also forging strategic partnerships to further advance the organization’s mission. Her keen focus is on helping correctional systems reimagine the potential of technology to deliver scalable, tailored programming that empowers justice-involved individuals to successfully reintegrate into society.

Nate Ober is the Chief Technology and Product Officer at APDS, where he leads teams responsible for developing innovative content and technology products for justice-impacted learners and driving technology efficiency in the company’s business systems. With 18 years of experience in education technology, Nate has a track record of guiding organizations through growth and transformation. He has expertise in product management, agile transformation, IT modernization, software development, and scalable educational technology solutions. Before joining APDS, Nate held various roles in the education industry, including CTO and Head of Product at Straighterline and CTO at Questar Assessment.

Dr. Amy Lopez is a federal appointee and nationally recognized expert who designs and delivers innovative correctional educational programming for incarcerated individuals and training for staff entrusted with their care. She is a pioneer in launching first-of-their-kind programs on positive behavior interventions, leveraging technology to connect incarcerated individuals with educational and legal resources, and implementing innovative trauma-informed staff training to de-escalate crisis situations. 

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