First cohort graduates coding program at NCCW

June 12, 2024 (York, Neb.) – The first cohort of students at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women (NCCW) have successfully completed the yearlong Persevere program, which has equipped them with coding skills to fill high-demand jobs.

During the 12-month program, the 10 participants spent six hours each day, five days a week, together. They learned coding through virtual instruction, along with wraparound services, including career readiness, life skills development, reentry services and family support. With completion of the program, graduates are prepared for entry level jobs that could include: software developer, backend developer, UI/UX designer, website developer, quality assurance, video game developer and data analyst. 

“This program is an important part of our TRANSFORM Nebraska efforts to foster growth, build bridges, and ensure that every person leaving our facilities has a genuine opportunity for a positive reintegration into society,” said NDCS Director Rob Jeffreys.

Persevere is a national, non-profit organization committed to empowering people to changes their lives, families and communities through technology education, life skills development and employment. The organization also utilizes an extensive volunteer base to serve as guest speakers, providing additional knowledge and support to students, in addition to mentoring graduates as they adjust to the workforce.

“This class has opened up a huge door for me career-wise and given me skills that I can now pursue further upon release,” said Kendra Barnts, one of the graduates. “This was the best thing that could have happened to me in here. Never would I have thought that while in prison I would learn life-changing skills. This class has given me a nudge in the right direction that I needed and gave me back my determination to do better and be better.”

At NCCW, Persevere is funded through the Vocational and Life Skills (VLS) program, which provides grants to organizations that facilitate employment and educational opportunities, skills training, job seeking and other key resources to individuals who are incarcerated, discharged from prison within the past eighteen months, or serving a period of supervision on parole or probation.

“I love when others are able to recognize the incredible potential that lies within themselves,” said Kris Steed, Persevere program manager. “By providing them with valuable skills, guiding them through challenges and creating a safe and supportive environment where they feel understood, valued, and empowered we can instill hope and confidence that will lead to a brighter future with endless opportunities.”  

Persevere also offers a program for participants’ children, ages 10-17. Youth are provided a laptop and participate weekly in a coding and life skills program, along with community assistance and support.

Two of the graduates will serve as peer instructors in future cohorts, with the next cohort beginning in July.