Entrepreneurship training for people in prison

Imagine providing life changing access to entrepreneurship training to the most disenfranchised people in America - those locked up in the criminal justice system with no access to computers, the internet or mentorship. Be a part of a revolutionary education project at the intersection of social equity and entrepreneurship advancement.

person in prison cell learning about entrepreneurship

People in prison are desperate for entrepreneurship training.

”How do I start my own small business after release?” is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive and entrepreneurship training is by far the top educational topic requested by our learners. People in prison want to provide for themselves, their families and their communities after release. Often, starting a small business is one of few options for employment among returning citizens. 

Despite this intense passion, people in prison are not provided with modern, accessible, relevant entrepreneurship training.

The inherent motivations among incarcerated people to learn about entrepreneurship are ignored rather than encouraged by the criminal justice system. With 600,000 people released every year from state and federal prisons, this is a giant missed opportunity for improving outcomes for returning citizens, their families and communities.

Level is creating a series of entrepreneurship guides for people in prison across the country.

To help returning citizens avoid reincarceration and break the cycle of poverty after release, Level is creating a three part series of educational guides about entrepreneurship focused on the specific needs of low income adults.

The first guide in this series, called How To Start Your Own Business: Prepare To Launch, was released in March 2022 and focuses on key questions to ask before starting a small business. We have distributed this first guide to over 1,600 people in prison across the country, and the response has been amazing with a Net Promoter Score of 83. Participants are passionately asking for the next guides in our entrepreneurship series.

Level is currently raising funds for the creation and distribution of the second guide in Level’s entrepreneurship series called How To Start Your Own Business: Thrive In The First Year. This guide will focus on starting a small with reduced startup costs and investing profits into the business as it grows. The guide will provide proven strategies for how to set up a small business for long term success by tracking expenses, revenue and break even point.

How To Start Your Own Business: Thrive In The First Year will be created in collaboration with Brandon James, a passionate advocate for returning citizens who has himself started several successful businesses after release from prison.

We invite you to help Level reshape the story and change the American criminal justice system with dignity and optimism.

There is no better investment in an individual or their community than education. Your support invests in the inherent ability of incarcerated Americans to reshape not just their own narrative, but the story we all tell ourselves about what is possible.

Project budget

The total budget for this project is $29,675 including production of the guide plus plus distribution to 1,500 people in prison in the first year. The guide will live on in our permanent catalog and will be sent to thousands of incarcerated people over its lifetime. Level is raising funds for this project through a combination of foundation grants, corporate grants and public donations from individual philanthropists.

We have raised $18,650 for this project from corporate grants provided by Infotech, a foundation grant from the Bob Barker Foundation as well as from contributions from individual philanthropist donors including Monica Layfield and the Caplan Family.

Contribute to this project.

Make a meaningful impact for thousands of people in prison who want to learn about entrepreneurship.

Donate by credit card.

Donate by check.

We welcome donations by check, especially for larger contributions. Make checks payable to Level, note entrepreneurship in the memo, and mail to:


411 W Monroe St
Austin, TX 78704

Level is a 501c3 nonprofit, EIN 84-2956557. Donations are tax-deductible. Thank you!

Level serves incarcerated people at state prisons, federal prisons and county jails across the country.


Level applies the power of education to break the destructive cycle of the American criminal justice system. We offer educational, job training and personal development services for people in prison to convert otherwise wasted years of incarceration into an opportunity to prepare for a brighter, stronger future. Level is the only national provider of free job training and educational content for people in prison, providing a critical lifeline to incarcerated people across the country.

Level serves incarcerated people at 680 different federal, state, county and military prisons in 48 states. The expected outcomes of Level's program are increased employment and income after release and a reduction in recidivism.

Imagine a criminal justice system in which people being released from prison have better chances of success than when they first went in. Imagine a different system that encourages the inherent motivations for self improvement among incarcerated people instead of breaking them down and isolating them without resources. Imagine a system that activates incarcerated people's dreams for a different tomorrow, a system that promotes tools to strengthen people, their families and their communities after release. At Level, we work towards this vision every day!

Level creates educational packets - we call them guides - and distributes them at no cost directly to people in prison across the country. Our guides require no internet access and cover topics including entrepreneurship, computer science, vocational job training and personal development. We distribute content to facilities without any educational programming and to people in solitary confinement and maximum security who are not able to attend programming that may exist at their facility. Incarcerated learners send us written responses to each guide, allowing us to collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data to measure impact and outcomes.

Level is a data driven organization. We collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative information across our individual programs to measure target outcomes and impacts.

The objective criteria that we will measure to indicate if this program is a success are the total number of incarcerated learners who receive this guide in the first year, number of Completion Forms sent back to Level by incarcerated learners, number of correct answers to quiz questions, average rating for educational effectiveness and Net Promoter Score rating. We measure these criteria for each of our guides - our data tracking and measurement system is already in place, functioning and tested.

Over the long term, we are interested in tracking our programs' impact on three outcomes: post release employment, income and recidivism among the formerly incarcerated learners that Level has served. These outcomes are fully measurable, though the time horizon to measure them is long considering prison sentences that often cover 5 to 15 years. In order to measure these long term outcomes, our digital platform will be able to continue connecting with formerly incarcerated people after they leave prison, a unique feature among prison education programs.