About Our Organization

"I am living proof that
tech is a vehicle for freedom."

Khalil 'Army' ArmsteadExecutive Director

Founded in 2020 under Alex Qin's leadership, Emergent Works envisioned creating a community where formerly incarcerated people have a safe space to learn tech literacy and coding skills that enable them to seek sustainable employment. Formerly known as Code Cooperative, the organization's evolution was shaped by Army's inspirational journey, starting as a mentee in the mentorship program. Emergent Works took a significant step forward by hiring its first employee and operations manager, Army Armstead. With a background in teaching, music, and ministry, Army brings a unique perspective and deep understanding of the challenges faced by system-impacted individuals. In his role, Army was responsible for overseeing and designing innovative technical education programs tailored specifically for communities affected by mass incarceration.

Although COVID-19 disrupted many of EW’s plans, Army launched the first EW 1:1 virtual mentorship program in year one, virtually connecting formerly incarcerated individuals with software engineers to build digital literacy and coding skills to decrease recidivism, the digital divide, and generational poverty. Under Army's leadership, the organization achieved notable successes, including creating an open-source app called Not911, an alternative to policing in a traditional sense while connecting people to counseling, mediation, and intervention services.

Shortly after his tenure as Operations Manager, Army Armstead became our Executive Director. Within three months, he spearheaded efforts that led to Emergent Works securing a $1,000,000 grant from Jack Dorsey's StartSmall fund. This grant was instrumental in providing COVID-proof skills training to our communities, underscoring our commitment to equitable access and empowerment. In parallel, Army collaborated closely with his team to forge impactful partnerships with the Community Justice Exchange and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Together, we assumed ownership of the development and maintenance of the Bail Fund App, a groundbreaking tool that facilitates efficient and equitable access to bail funds for individuals incarcerated during pretrial and immigration detention. This initiative addresses a critical need within our justice system and provides apprenticeship opportunities for returning citizens to gain real-world experience.

Army, Executive Director of Emergent Works