MEMPHIS, Tenn. (TN Tribune)- At a time when the American justice system is under more scrutiny than ever, a unique partnership is helping justice-involved individuals launch meaningful careers and create generational change for their families and communities.
Today, Banyan Labs, a Tennessee-based technology services provider that hires formerly incarcerated individuals who have been trained through a coding program partner, announced its collaboration with Cornbread Hustle, a Texas-based staffing agency for second chances. Both companies will work in tandem to place returning citizens in high-tech coding and software development jobs across the United States.
“At Banyan Labs, we’re proud to have a staff of 100 percent justice-impacted individuals,” said Mark Clark, director of business development at Banyan Labs. “Our partnership with Cornbread Hustle strengthens our ability to help formerly incarcerated men and women establish a career within the tech industry. While our main priority at Banyan Labs is to foster our employees’ new coding skills and support them as they transition professionally, Cornbread Hustle helps individuals take the next step in their employment.”
Banyan Labs was explicitly created to partner with Persevere, a revolutionary nonprofit providing technology training to
individuals in correctional facilities. Founded by Sean Hosman, justice-impacted and a recovering addict, Persevere converts people convicted of crimes into coders through cutting-edge classes in correctional facilities. The courses allow individuals to learn the basics of software development and earn six coding certifications by the end of the program. Beyond teaching technical skills, the Persevere Program goes beyond education by providing ongoing support that includes family reunification, transitional housing, and additional skill development and training which leads to employment opportunities.
“Through my collection of personal experiences, I wanted to create a way to empower and support justice-impacted individuals,” said Sean Hosman, found and acting executive director of Persevere. “In conjunction with Banyan Labs, Persevere gives justice-impacted individuals the tools they need to succeed after release. Banyan Labs’ partnership with Cornbread Hustle allows us to match our program graduates with even more notable businesses across the U.S., which is something we will always be excited about.”
Banyan Labs hires many Persevere graduates to provide software development and coding services to dozens of major companies, including Indeed, Forbes, Amazon, Bounteous and many more.
Not only does the job training within correctional facilities benefit justice-impacted students, but it also increases diversity and equity and expands the recruitment market. This enables employers to hire eager, skilled, and fresh new talent.
This system also pays big dividends for American businesses. Through federal and state government programs, businesses reap financial rewards for hiring job seekers who have consistently faced barriers to employment, which includes justice-impacted individuals under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program and other federal bonding programs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the WOTC program provides employers tax savings starting at $2,400 per qualified justice-involved hire. By providing high-paying, stable jobs to returning citizens, Banyan Labs, Persevere, and Cornbread Hustle are helping reduce recidivism and promote successful reintegration into everyday life.
“About 70 percent of people released from prison will end up being arrested again,” said Cheri Garcia, founder of Cornbread Hustle. “That’s because when people come out of prison, they often have no support system and can’t find jobs. They typically resort to old behaviors, including criminal activity, and end up back behind bars. Helping these deserving men and women find jobs breaks the cycle.”
The newly-announced Banyan Labs and Cornbread Hustle partnership means bridging another high-demand, low-supply employment gap. Working together, Persevere, Banyan Labs and Cornbread Hustle are accelerating intelligent, hard-working software developers from incarceration to information technology.
Persevere: Founded in 2012, Persevere is a nonprofit organization that is committed to ending mass incarceration, reducing recidivism, and empowering justice-involved men and women to succeed as productive members of society. Persevere as a whole provides a comprehensive program that includes coding education during incarceration as well as career readiness, mentoring, essential life-skills training, residential transitional living and job placement in the technology sector after release.
Banyan Labs: Banyan Labs is a software development company that employs 100%, justice-impacted individuals. With a social impact mission, Banyan Labs provides businesses with innovative information technology solutions and opportunities to make lasting, positive social change. Created out of the desire to place Persevere graduates into jobs through an on-the-job training program, their work is proven, professional, and affordable.
Cornbread Hustle: Cornbread Hustle is a staffing agency for second chances that helps people with criminal records and people in recovery find meaningful employment.