Computer science training for people in prison

Imagine providing life changing access to computer science training to the most disenfranchised people in America - those locked up in the criminal justice system with no access to computers or the internet. Level is partnering with leaders in Unplugged Computer Science to create an innovative computer science training program for low income, incarcerated adults. Be a part of a revolutionary education project at the intersection of social equity and advancing technology.

person in prison cell learning about computer science

People in prison have tremendous passion for changing their lives through computer science education.

“I want to learn how to be a programmer” is one of the most common career training requests we receive. Incarcerated people across America have dreams of a different, brighter future powered by technology skills.

However, this inherent motivation and passion for technology training is ignored by our criminal justice system.

People in prison receive no computer science training and are kept away from accessing the tools needed to gain technology skills. 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.

Teaching computer science to people in prison is challenging, but not impossible!

People in prison are not given regular access to computers or the internet. They make up for this with time, tremendous curiosity, passion and creativity.

To meet the incredible desire for computer science training among incarcerated people, Level has teamed up with the world leaders in what’s called Unplugged Computer Science to create innovative tools to teach computer science without access to a computer. Learn Computer Science Without a Computer: Volume 1 will allow learners in prison to study the core concepts of computer science including binary calculations, checksum algorithms and fundamentals of encryption, all without requiring a computer or internet.

The program has four goals: 1) Students will develop foundational computer science knowledge, 2) students will expand their abilities for critical thinking, 3) students will create a foundation for further instruction and experience using computers and 4) students will increase their confidence to understand concepts that were previously unavailable to them.

We invite you to help Level reshape the story and change the 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 $28,675 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 $14,600 for this project from grants provided by the Sooch Foundation and the Tingari-Silverton Foundation as well as from contributions from individual philanthropist donors including Krista Milich and Morgan Wheeler.

Contribute to this project.

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

Donate by credit card.

Donate by check.

We welcome donations by check, especially for larger contributions. Make checks payable to Level, note computer science 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.