Business A father's nonprofit helps former inmates get 6-figure jobs

A father’s nonprofit helps former inmates get 6-figure jobs


Sean Hosman, founder of the nonprofit organization To persevere, says he had a “pretty good” early life. In 2012, he was married and had three children Vant4gea human services and predictive analytics technology company focused on transforming correctional care and case management.

But stress and loss got in the way. Not knowing how to cope, Hosman turned to alcohol and drugs and was arrested ten times in two years.

Hosman realized he had to change when he ended up in prison on his youngest son’s birthday. “I wanted to be outside and with my family,” says Hosman “I don’t know why a certain birthday and event affected me more, but it did.”

Hosman started the long process of getting clean and sober and focused on building his dignity and self-esteem. Part of that was helping other people recover: helping them detox, find a place to live, get their job back, or start their own business.

“As I surrounded myself with more and more of these people and tried to help them one-on-one, I realized that the challenges everyone was facing were almost the same challenges,” says Hosman. “So I [had] this idea that almost anyone could get back on their feet if only they had this prescription of help. And if they accepted that help, and it was given very well, anyone could be successful.”

That belief would give rise to Persevere, a Memphis-based organization that serves hundreds of justice and high-risk individuals in community and correctional facilities across six states in the US. Persevere offers a one-year programming course for people in prison so they can work as full-stack developers upon release.

Related: She Made Personalized Cards for Her Prison Husband. Then she realized that thousands of prison women would buy them.

“If you can code, people don’t care much about you.”

To date, Persevere has given more than 400 inmates the opportunity to learn how to code and has helped many of them find jobs after their release at companies such as Amazon, Indeed and Forbeswhere some of them earn more than $125,000 a year.

“We have a lot of full-time employees who are recruiters – their only focus is preparing our candidates for jobs,” says Hosman, “and then building relationships with corporate America and technology companies – or now any company, because every company has technology needs – for a fair chance to hire [of] our candidates.”

Persevere has an estimated ratio of one recruiter for every 20 students, Hosman says.

In addition, Hosman founded a technology company Banyan Labs to give Persevere graduates access to mentorship from experienced technology partners and the chance to work on cross-functional development teams.

From the start, Hosman recognized the tremendous value of creating a technology-focused program for inmates. Not only was he well-versed in the industry himself and confident in his ability to help people navigate, but he also sees technology as “the great equalizer.”

“If you can code, people don’t care much about you,” Hosman explains. “You can work in your underwear, you can work from home, you can work remotely. You may have a bad background, [but] if you can code, you can get a job.”

Hosman also considers coding to be an excellent “metaphor for people re-coding their lives”.

“Coding is nothing but problem solving,” says Hosman. “If you can learn how to solve problems, that translates to everything else that is a problem for you. And learning how to solve problems is key to everything.”

Related: Here’s How Prison Taught Me How To ‘Lead From The Front’

“It’s not just a job; it’s not a Band-Aid. It really transforms who they are.”

Hosman is committed to giving inmates, including the many fathers like himself, the tools they need to succeed upon release – a key factor in reducing the country’s high recidivism rate: within three years of release, two out of three former inmates are re-arrested, and more than 50% will return to prison, per Harvard Political Review.

According to Hosman, ex-prisoners who graduate from Persevere have a recidivism rate of only 1.8%. “That’s a shockingly low number,” he says. “It’s amazing. It’s not just a job; it’s not a Band-Aid. It really transforms who they are.”

As Hosman looks to the future, he’s excited to see Persevere developing into “a movement — not just a nonprofit.” In addition to expanding the program’s reach to more states across the country, Hosman wants to target not only those already trapped in the criminal justice system, but also those most at risk of getting into it.

“So a lot of communities of color,” says Hosman, “as well as those who are called disconnected youth or opportunity youth — they’re between the ages of 16 and 24. They’re not in school; they don’t have jobs. And they’re at the highest risk of getting into the system. So if we want to fix the system, we have to prevent people from going in, and prevent people who were in it from coming back.”

[Technology is] the future – it will always be the future.

Ultimately, Hosman hopes Persevere will establish thousands of local community offices where underprivileged and marginalized people can learn to code and gain all the other technology-based skills needed to build a successful career.

“Technology is evolving as always at a rate that none of us can even keep up with,” says Hosman, “especially now with AI. It is the future – it will always be the future. All the people who haven’t had the chance, need to know that and be trained to take advantage of it.”

And what about Hosman’s plans this Father’s Day? The serial plans to spend it with his children.

“I am very, very, very lucky,” says Hosman. “My kids work with me in my various businesses. So that’s a life transformation right there. The love, respect, trust and adoration we have is pretty amazing.”

Related: In Prison, I Found Freedom Through My Personal Discipline

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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