A Movement to End Ricidivism

What started with one man’s journey has grown to thousands of life changing experiences for hundreds of men and women in multiple states across the country. And we’re just getting started.

SECOND CHANCES START ON DAY ONE

More than 400 people have been certified as full-stack software developers and placed in gainful employment through the Persevere/Banyan Labs Program. As a result, our graduates, partners, stakeholders, and communities benefit from reduced recidivism and meaningful work by skilled professionals. 

Persevere began in 2012, two years before its incorporation in 2014, as our Founder was released from jail after serving time for a drug-related offense. He realized that he could earn a living thanks to his advanced technology skills, while others with criminal records struggled to find jobs. His initial efforts to help men one at a time evolved into what Persevere is today – an organization serving hundreds of justice-involved and at-risk individuals in community and correctional settings in more than 5 states.

SECOND CHANCES START ON DAY ONE

More than 400 people have been certified as full-stack software developers and placed in gainful employment through the Persevere/Banyan Labs Program. As a result, our graduates, partners, stakeholders, and communities benefit from reduced recidivism and meaningful work by skilled professionals. 

Persevere began in 2012, two years before its incorporation in 2014, as our Founder was released from jail after serving time for a drug-related offense. He realized that he could earn a living thanks to his advanced technology skills, while others with criminal records struggled to find jobs. His initial efforts to help men one at a time evolved into what Persevere is today – an organization serving hundreds of justice-involved and at-risk individuals in community and correctional settings in more than 5 states.

PERSEVERE,  PREVAIL, & FINALLY… PROSPER!

ALEX MARSTON

My name is Alexander Marston, and I was 26 when I was incarcerated. I lost everything I held dear to me...

ALEX'S STORY

I lost everything I held dear to me: my kids, my future wife, and my family. I’ve always loved computers and developing software as a way to connect with my engineer father. When I heard the warden introduce the new Persevere coding program, I knew I had to get involved. Since that day, Persevere has exceeded every expectation I’ve had for them. Some people didn’t believe that they’d be able to keep all their promises, but Persevere has gone so far beyond what I imagined. They not only taught me to be a full stack developer, but helped me reconnect with my youngest son—the most important part of my life.

Persevere helped me get a job, a car, housing and so much more. They taught me about emotional wellness and how to conduct myself in a professional environment through Persevere+. I realize now just how serious the Persevere staff is about seeing their students succeed. After 3 years, I’m back with my family, I’m getting married, and I’m with my kids. I have a career and a strong personal and professional support system. Persevere gave me a purpose.

DAVID DITTO

I’ve been out of prison for 10 months and my career has progressed how I wanted it to, and exactly how people at Persevere said it would.

DAVID'S STORY

Persevere radically changed my life. Years ago, as a person struggling with addiction, my thoughts of the future were rather bleak. I was serving a multi-year prison sentence for drug-related charges and I had grown to accept that I wouldn’t achieve the level of success that I saw others achieve. Once I began to get sober and subsequently entered the Persevere coding program, my thoughts regarding the future started to shift. I noticed that success wasn’t something reserved for other people—it could be mine.

I started my journey with Persevere & Banyan Labs as one of their first students in prison.

As soon as I started learning coding I could tell this is what I was supposed to do. I was surrounded by a group of individuals, a family, that wanted me to succeed even more than I did at times. That support, combined with the technical skills they gave me, revolutionized my life. I know now that software development is my calling and it was Persevere that gave me the opportunity to say that. To know that I am good at something for the first time in my life.

I am currently employed full-time as a software developer at a tech company called Vant4ge. I work on a team with developers from a world-wide employment website to create a platform for managing off-shore teams. Every day, my technical and soft skills increase, and my dreams of being a successful professional are realized. I am fielding job offers and furthering my career with the knowledge that I am qualified and enabled. Persevere provided me with the skills, the opportunity, and the hope I needed to transform my life.

I’m working for a tech company as a developer. I have a career now! The biggest guarantee Persevere tried to get into my head was they were getting me skills I could use to secure a steady income. They delivered on that very quickly.

I can’t quantify the effect it has on me to just know that I have them there when I need them. Any sort of problem, I know that I have this unit of people, this support system who wants me to succeed and is ready to help at the drop of a hat. My life is so much more than what I thought it could be, really a dream come true, thanks to Persevere & Banyan Labs.

TIANA TURMAN

Hi my name is Tiana Turman. I was incarcerated at Perryville Women's Prison in Goodyear, Arizona where I was sentenced to 10 years. I was only 18 years old when I was arrested.

TIANA'S STORY

I fought my case for 2 ½ years in the Maricopa county jail which was a very scary and emotional journey. One of the thoughts that continuously ran through my mind was that my life was over. That even when I am free I will never be able to get a job or go back to school! Having a felony was the worst thing ever but also having a felony for 2nd degree murder was even worse. Once I got to prison when I was 21 I took classes and programs that were available to me but none of them made me feel like I could enter society again and be successful. I worried that when I came home it would be hard on my family to support me. I would need so many things like a car, a job, clothes, food, basically everything! but my last year in prison I was in a minimum yard and I saw flyers about Persevere, so I decided to check it out and see what they had to offer. I was skeptical because I was used to being turned down from certain programs because of my charge so I didn't want to face that disappointment again. But I figured why not try and apply and see what happens. I always wanted to be some kind of designer whether it be logos, websites, photos whatever it was I wanted to create something. When I got accepted into the class it was more than I expected. I expected to learn how to code but I also learned how to LIVE. the program also offered techniques on how to work in a workplace, how to understand our emotions, how to cope with past and present trauma, our teachers, Mr. Valdez and Mr. James, created a safe place for us in that classroom. A place where we could be free to express ourselves, grow and prosper. Some people doubted if the program would really help us find jobs once released and how could we trust this program when every other program the prison offered usually lied and failed us. But they always reassured us that we would become successful. And we did! I've been home for a year now and I have been able to do things that I wouldn't be able to do if it weren't for Preserve!! I’ve been able to help my family. I've been able to buy birthday presents, Christmas presents and do things for myself. I sometimes think what if Persevere never came to my yard and offered me this opportunity, where would I be today? Well I know one thing for sure, things would be extremely hard on me and my family. Persevere helped get the job at Banyan Labs where I was given so much information and knowledge. I learned so much from Banyan Labs. I never stopped believing in the program because Persevere never stopped believing in me. I know I can only go up from here Persevere has created a foundation for me to stand on for my family, and now that I’m pregnant with my first child, my son will also have a solid foundation to stand on all because of Persevere. I bought my first car and I’m looking forward to having my first home!I have so many firsts because of Persevere and their hard work and dedication. Thank you for this opportunity and this amazing gift! Yes, I have a felony but I am also a web developer and now a coding instructor helping young kids learn to code and also adults who have been in my situation. It feels good to help others like I was helped and watch individuals grow and create positive change. My grandma told me while I was in prison when I first started the class that one day Persevere would ask me to come work for them. I thought she was crazy. I was like well I will work for Banyan Labs and from there we’ll see where it goes. But she was right almost two years later Stacie Books offered me a job as a coding instructor for Persevere and here I am now doing what I love, helping others and coding!

MARK CLARK

My son received the Kawani’s B.U.G award in school and this time, I was able to be present to support and honor him. It’s like a miracle that I know wouldn’t be a reality if it wasn’t for Persevere and Banyan Labs. Being there for my son is a dream come true I couldn’t be more grateful for second chance I’ve been given.

MARK'S STORY

My name is Mark Clark and I am the Business Development Director for Banyan Labs. I was hired by Banyan Labs after being released from prison October 28th, 2021.

My 4.5 year sentence was (as you can imagine) one of the hardest and most painful experiences I have endured throughout my life. In the beginning of my sentence (and perhaps even before being arrested), I had officially given up on life. I parked, I checked out, I no longer believed in or valued myself. After a few months went by, I woke up one morning to a slip that requested me to be present at a meeting in our prison's town hall. On the top right of the slip, there was a word in large bold lettering. That word was "PERSEVERE". I read about the web development program and at the time, I was desperately in need of something to talk me off the ledge I was on.

I was accepted into the Persevere Web Development program and little did I know about how much my experience would impact my life. I began coding and started feeling like I was actually doing something of value with my time. I now had a goal, I had a plan, I had something that I could be proud of. More importantly, I was able to show my family that I had let down, that I was making an effort to change my life and make up for the mistakes I have made.

I graduated from the Coding program, I became a teacher's aide for the same coding program during my final year and when I was released, I was provided an opportunity to work with Banyan Labs. I now spend my time building partnerships with companies who will give second chances to our Web and Software developers. I am able to share my inspiration and help others coming from a similar painful path as mine. I couldn't be more grateful for the teams that contributed to saving my life and helping me redeem myself. Everyday is like a dream and I catch myself often teary eyed from the life changing moments I experience and kindness I am shown from the team at Banyan Labs and the partnered companies. I wouldn't change a single spec of my life and my experiences.

I know if it weren't for Banyan Labs and Persevere, there is a strong chance I would be back in the streets abusing drugs, back in prison or worse. This reality remains close to me everyday and it is like a miracle. I cannot thank Persevere and Banyan Labs enough. I am truly blessed.

BLAINE REID

"Without Persevere… I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would have some basic job that I probably hate, scraping by. I might start school…. If I had time or the money too. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today."

BLAINE'S STORY

Where to start my story with my experience with Persevere? My experience with Persevere was a serendipitous manifestation of my desire. I was working at ACI making $5.25 an hour, which is amazing money in prison. During my time there I had taken the lead on CAD design and running the automated saw, which was used to cut our house plans out into each piece. However, it was a pain to format csv files to import into the saw. Which lead me to teaching myself Visual Basic and using that to automate the csv formatting. I absolutely fell in love with coding and wanted to know more. I wished there was a program like the one I had seen on PBS called “The Last Mile”, where inmates were taught to code. I remember it clearly. 

Then Covid hit, not a month later, and within a month the company went out of business and maybe two weeks later there was a posting about Persevere. I knew I would be a part of it. And I was 1 of 17 people selected for the initial start of the program, out of 2000 people. It is absolutely incredible. I was in a medium custody level yard. Programs like this don’t come to medium yards. Yet, it came to mine and I was selected. If it had come even a couple weeks later. I would have been ineligible due to my release date. Everything happened perfectly. 

I went in with the knowledge that I manifested this and I wasn’t going to waste it. I spent every moment of time studying and fell even more in love with coding. I loved the challenge. It was a puzzle and would consume me. I would write on my locker with dry erase markers to solve a challenge. I would study 4 to 6 hours beyond class time. I devoted myself to mastering it. I knew it was the career I wanted. Nothing would stop me. Yes, it was challenging, especially doing it in prison. Where we were limited on resources. We couldn’t hop on Google when we had a problem. We had to dig through README’s and any other doc we could find. But those things made me a better coder. I had to understand the code, not just be good at googling and copying code to solve a problem.

And now, I am a software engineer intern for one of the biggest background check companies in the world. I make over 100k a year as an intern and will be added as a full time software engineer in 6 weeks when my internship is up. Where I will make even more. Which has allowed me to not get a house but I am having one built. My wife will be able to go part time and go back to school as she wants. I have time to do things I love and then go to work from home at a job I love. I am also teaching my step kids how to code, while also having the time to actually spend time with them. I have the resources to do things with my family. It is because of Persevere being there and giving me the opportunity to learn the skills I now have, that all of this is possible. 

Without Persevere… I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would have some basic job that I probably hate, scraping by. I might start school…. If I had time or the money too. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Banyan Labs provides real-world experience to men and women who are turning their lives around after incarceration. We appreciate this chance to move forward with our dream of providing for our families. Here are 3 ways you can help:

PARTNERSHIPS

Banyan Lab is always looking for new partners in our mission to train and employ justice involved individuals. Opportunities range from internships, scholarships, and apprenticeships, to mentorships and job search opportunities. 

Contact us to Learn More

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"Our population needs truly viable skills with real opportunities to succeed. Technology offers meaningful jobs, careers, and even entrepreneurship. I always say technology is the great equalizer. It's a language that people in those circumstances often haven't learned yet. Coding is a language that puts them back in the world."
Sean hosman
Founder, CEO