A consortium including youth charity Catch22 and social care charity Turning Point has been invited to bid to be included on an approved list of suppliers who could be chosen to build and run five new prisons.
If successful, the Catch22 and Turning Point consortium will automatically be part of the shortlist whenever a tender for one of the five new 1,500-place prisons is announced.
Justice secretary Jack Straw announced plans for two of the five prisons - at Runwell in Essex and Beam Park West in Dagenham - in April.
The consortium involving Serco, Catch22 and Turning Point has already been selected by the Ministry of Justice as preferred bidder to run two other new prisons - at Belmarsh West in London and Maghull in Liverpool. The jails are expected to open in 2011.
A spokesman for Serco said the consortium would almost certainly be applying to be appointed to the framework.