Next Chapter – offering former inmates a path to tech career with software engineering apprenticeship

Next Chapter – offering former inmates a path to tech career with software engineering apprenticeship
Kenyatta Leal

For people who have been in prison, having and keeping on to a position afterwards is tricky. In accordance to the Bureau of Justice Data, of the 50,000-in addition people today introduced from Federal prisons in 2010, one particular-3rd failed to attain any get the job done about the 4 decades publish-launch.

The in general work amount was involving 35{64d42ef84185fe650eef13e078a399812999bbd8b8ee84343ab535e62a252847} – 38{64d42ef84185fe650eef13e078a399812999bbd8b8ee84343ab535e62a252847}, indicating around two-thirds had been jobless at any specified time.

All those fortunate more than enough to get work opportunities were paid much less than the normal populace, earning just 53{64d42ef84185fe650eef13e078a399812999bbd8b8ee84343ab535e62a252847} of the median US wage in the very first handful of months just after release earnings have been most affordable for Black and Native American former prisoners.

One organization making an attempt to enhance this circumstance is Upcoming Chapter, which offers persons who have been in jail a route into a tech profession. The scheme normally takes the form of an eight-month paid out apprenticeship method, where by individuals who were formerly incarcerated get taught software program engineering expertise.

The apprenticeship is composed of three months with Hack Reactor’s application engineering bootcamp to upskill and find out what it takes to be an engineer. This is adopted by 5 months on internet site with a person of Upcoming Chapter’s 15 hiring companions. Throughout that time period, apprentices do the job together with the engineering teams, learning about that office and fantastic-tuning their abilities.

Importantly, the full apprenticeship is paid, giving people a dwelling stipend so they can adequately focus on the education. Next Chapter supplies further aid in the kind of professional coaching to help apprentices do the job via unique worries they might be enduring and map out their long run, each individually and professionally and a technological director, who works aspect by aspect with the apprentice and engineering teams to aid discovering.

Apprentices can also call on guidance from a peer network manufactured up of pretty much 50 Subsequent Chapter alumni, who have all accomplished the system and can share their ordeals.

By way of the apprenticeship approach, 31 previously incarcerated persons have become engineers, and about 10 many others are in a variety of levels of getting one particular.

Possible apprentices usually obtain out about the Subsequent Chapter application by means of phrase of mouth, according to its Govt Director, Kenyatta Leal:

Our method is generally constructed on partnerships. We associate with other companies that get the job done with people who are previously incarcerated, who are coming household, to help them get on the right observe and create career techniques they are heading to require to enter the occupation sector. It’s by way of those people discussions that we have with these businesses in which word gets handed by way of the grapevine.

The best candidate is somebody who has been out of jail for about a 12 months, has got into a steady regime due to the fact coming home, is on monitor with parole, and is all set for an opportunity like Upcoming Chapter. Leal provides:

We look for those people milestones in a person’s lifetime when they occur household. If they haven’t satisfied people milestones but, then we attempt to help get them on a trajectory where they can meet those milestones and be ready for our plan.

It doesn’t issue no matter whether they were recently let out or if somebody’s been out for a decade, we’re still interested in functioning with them if they’re fascinated in pursuing software program engineering as a job.


Leal has been performing with Subsequent Chapter because its inception in 2018. The major objective of the business is to create a far more equitable place of work, where by anyone has an prospect to prosper.

Viewing people break the cycle of incarceration in their people and the intergenerational cycle of poverty, and put on their own in a placement wherever they can create generational wealth, is always one thing particular for Leal, primarily as he has particular experience of the predicament:

I occur to this work via my own incarceration. I was incarcerated for 20-in addition decades in the California prison process. For the duration of my time there, I labored truly tough and turned my lifetime close to, and received included in a good deal of applications to assist persons do the similar.

Leal assisted discovered a system referred to as The Very last Mile even though serving time, a computer software engineering schooling plan inside the walls of the San Quentin prison:

It was by way of that work I acquired introduced to Following Chapter, and this option to help people today who are on the within flip that career instruction into actual possibilities to be engineers when they come household. I have been working at this intersection of justice reform and tech for the better section of a 10 years now.

The number of apprenticeships readily available through Future Chapter usually is dependent on the range of people its 15 employing partners are able to take on. As much as criteria goes, the firm seems for individuals who have been ready to demonstrate some form of security because they have occur house. With Leal’s lived encounter, he appreciates 1st-hand what that appears like:

We are wanting for people today who have built a commitment to do the suitable issue, who’ve accomplished the introspective function that lends to another person not just having out of prison but staying out of jail. For myself, I did not go to jail just to get out. I experienced to master some classes when I was there.

A single of the issues we appear for in candidates are people today who acquired from their experience and are fully commited to staying much better now than they were yesterday, and demonstrating that with their challenging get the job done, one day at a time. We seem for perseverance, a optimistic frame of mind and any individual who wants to use their knowledge to aid other persons.

The overwhelming vast majority of the people Leal ordeals each day, who want to apply to the method, have individuals features, and want to give back again and get the job done really hard.

Salesforce grant

Upcoming Chapter could quickly open up its system to far more people, as it has just been awarded a $2.5m grant from Salesforce. The grant will enable build much more alternatives for folks to enter the workforce as engineers, and for Up coming Chapter to perform with its company partners to establish most effective tactics to create reasonable probability alternatives for everybody:

This software works and we’re hardly scratching the floor of what we can do if we continue to bridge this instruction hole and develop far more possibilities for persons when they occur household.

Throughout his practical experience in jail, Leal achieved 1000’s of proficient gentlemen, expert in a variety of blue collar trades and doing the job difficult to flip their life all around:

But we dwell in the data age, and today with the quantity of teaching options that individuals have on the web, you will find a big prospect to upskill a wide swathe of the inhabitants that’s been very considerably still left behind by modern society.

Next Chapter aims to reveal that men and women who have served time do have value, and the far more opportunities they have to perform, acquire care of their family members and contribute to their communities, is a acquire-win for absolutely everyone. Leal suggests: 

We spend so substantially time and dollars invested in locking individuals up and we do not make investments in their re-coming into back again into the group. In the US, we’ve appear up with a thousand techniques to make sure a plastic bottle or an aluminum can will get a new daily life, but far much too handful of to make certain another person leaving incarceration does. Every single and each one of us plays a part in the culture that people today are coming household to and we can do superior.