Coding Dojo and the Prison Scholar Fund (PSF) are launching a new coding boot camp program to help formerly incarcerated people develop computer programming skills and find work.
There are lots of jobs available for people with coding skills, but approximately 45% of formerly incarcerated persons remain unemployed one year after their release — and 68% are re-arrested within three years, according to an article in Forbes.
“We believe talent is evenly distributed, but opportunities are not,” said Richard Wang, CEO and co-founder of Coding Dojo.
The new boot camp involves a three-month, eight-hour-a-day coding curriculum. It will also provide access to wraparound services, allowing participants to have access to mentors in the industry on top of getting paid to attend the boot camp. The classes will be held online due to COVID-19, and the first cohort will include five to eight students. Applicants will need a high school diploma or GED and will go through an interview process, Forbes reports.
Both Coding Dojo and PSF have invested seed money to fund the new program.
“We need people who can go through some really tough material and not quit,” said PSF’s founder, Dirk van Velzen. “We’re looking for grit — interest and stick-to-itiveness.”
San Quentin has a coding program through Prison Industry Authorities (PIA) and The Last Mile that teaches prisoners how to interface with computers and produce web content.
Michael Calvin Holmes, 63, is one such coding student at SQ. When asked if he thinks this class will help him when he gets out of prison, he said “Yes. It will open the door to many entry-level jobs.”
Holmes already has an offer to apply for a job at the Valley Transit Authority upon his release. He says he would like to see The Last Mile expand their SQ classes to five days a week instead of four.
There has been a renewed focus on rehabilitation in prisons, with a focus on giving incarcerated people access to education and career training while they serve time, so that they can more easily re-join society upon release. Learning how to communicate using computers and the internet is an important part of this process, and may lower rates of recidivism.