Model & Strategy

The Problem
Mass incarceration is expensive ($182B spent annually), destructive (113M U.S. adults impacted), and ineffective (55% recidivism within three years). Decades of research show that sustained contact between an incarcerated person and their loved ones can reduce recidivism rates by as much as 56%. A $3B telecom duopoly presently dominates this market, generating obscene profits by charging families extortionate prices — with rates as steep as $25 per 15-minute call and $1.50 per email — to communicate with their incarcerated loved ones. The cost of communication drives families apart, makes connection more difficult, and forces one in three families with incarcerated loved ones into debt.

The Solution
Ameelio is fundamentally transforming a broken prison system that thrives on poverty. An estimated 50% of incarcerated persons had no earnings in the eight years leading up to their incarceration, and in the year immediately preceding, that percentage jumps to 80%. As a result, Ameelio recognizes that sustainable decarceration is only possible if they provide the incarcerated with the vital resources and pathways (like educational equity, economic mobility, and societal support) they lacked before incarceration. This informed approach to decarceration makes Ameelio one of the boldest and most innovative organizations in criminal justice reform.

By divorcing profit and incarceration and introducing high-quality and free technology to corrections, Ameelio is democratizing access to critical resources that have been proven to positively transform the lives of the incarcerated while increasing reentry success. Additionally, Ameelio leverages a digital ecosystem to combat mass incarceration. Using their free-to-use communication and learning management platform, individuals sustain contact with critical connections in the outside world, including their families, legal representation, and other social services. This empowers individuals to visualize an alternative future. Ameelio’s solution provides multiple benefits, including liberating families from financial exploitation for accessing a basic service.

In the next three years, Ameelio aims to provide their SaaS platform to 14 state prison systems, effectively serving 1M justice-impacted Americans (240K incarcerated persons a year directly and an additional 730K members of their families), amounting to 20% of the entire U.S. state prison population.

At a Glance
Founded: 2020
Co-Founder & CEO: Uzoma "Zo" Orchingwa
Social Justice
Location of work: Domestic, Northeast, West Coast, Midwest, South Central
New Haven, CT
Transforming America’s correctional system with technology
Meet Uzoma "Zo" Orchingwa

Zo, co-founder and CEO, holds a criminology master’s from the University of Cambridge and a JD-MBA from Yale Law School and Yale School of Management. He received the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, Truman Scholarship, and Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He was awarded an MIT Tech Review 35 under 35 in 2022 and Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business Award in 2021. His work has been featured in Forbes, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Ameelio has been featured on the 2023 TIME100 Most Influential Companies list, chosen as one of Fast Company’s 2021 World-Changing Ideas, and received The New York Times Good Tech Award.


Connect, Ameelio’s prison communication platform, is scaling across three state prison systems, two counties, and one international prison, representing over 29 prisons and more than 40K incarcerated people.

Ameelio Mail, their written communications mobile app, has over 350K users and has connected over 700K families and incarcerated loved ones.

Learn, the first-ever free-to-use prison education platform, serves prisons in Rhode Island, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Mississippi.