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Prosper 4 Group and CODE4000

Eleanor De, about 6 years ago

CODE4000 is a social enterprise which aims to break the cycle of crime by teaching prisoners how to code. The organisation was founded by Michael Taylor, an Englishman living in Sweden, who developed the concept after hearing about and seeing similar work in San Quentin jail in California. To date, 89 men in the US have gone through a similar programme and have been released to do computer coding work and none have reoffended.

The work of CODE4000 helps to significantly increase prisoners' chances of employment and coding is particularly suitable for two reasons. Firstly, it is a highly-desired skill for many companies and, secondly, prisoners also have a lot of time to practice and learn a new skill which is necessary for the trial and error aspects of coding. The prisoners are also able to use their skills whilst in the prison to design websites for external clients as a form of work experience.

The development of each prison workshop is split into 4 stages:

1. Training phase

This begins with teaching prisoners the basics of HTML, CSS and Javascript, before moving on to more advanced concepts such as Git, TDD, MOVC, databases and full stack development.

2. Real-world projects

Successful graduates can then work for external clients on real-world projects, which helps to provide some income also.

3. Working outside prison

Then participants can work for clients in the real world on temporary day release.

4. Full-time employment

CODE4000 aims to help prisoners find full-time employment as developers upon release.

Michael Taylor met Michael Corrigan (the founder of Prosper 4 Group) in 2015 through their mutual financial backer, Andrew Dixon. Prosper 4 is now the recruitment partner and new business partner for CODE4000 in the Humber project and an upcoming new project in the same region, when it starts.

The Humber project represents the first prison coding workshop in Europe. It opened on 31st July and students have already started learning the basics of web development, learning to code in HTMP (the layout and structure of web pages) and CSS (the style and design of web pages). By the end of the year the students will have reached a professional level of web development and will be able to start working on real-life projects.

Michael Taylor, Founder of CODE4000, said: "The matching of our skilled successful candidates and the employers who Prosper are finding is a great outcome. We cannot wait until the first man leaves Humber Prison, not to join the ranks of the unemployed, but to be a coder, working at the forefront of technology developments within the UK economy".

A further project, in another prison in the North-East, will follow the same model and proposals have been made for a new Academy to be created using existing building facilities. It is hoped that there will be an initial cohort of 12-16 prisoners by the spring of 2018.

Michael Corrigan, Chief Executive and founder of Prosper, said "We are thrilled to be working with CODE4000 to change the lives of people in the future. The training and skills needed are a challenge. The people emerging as alumni have earned the chance to use they're skills within the workforce, and we are working to ensure they can use them to improve their lives, and make a positive contribution to society".

Prosper 4 will be working with businesses, both locally and nationally, to place CODE4000 participants into work and to support them in staying in employment.