Kansas has been awarded a Second Chance Act grant totaling $639,684 to support technical education for inmates at the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF). The grant will establish two classrooms, including a mobile unit supported by a U.S. Department of Labor grant, to allow inmates to earn industry recognized credentials, with the goal of increasing employment opportunities upon release and reducing recidivism. The grant will be administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce in partnership with the Kansas Department of Corrections and the Washburn Institute of Technology.
“This grant provides us with the opportunity to help the women at TCF earn valuable industry recognized credentials,” Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George said. “That will help reduce recidivism and increase job opportunities for program participants, while also enhancing our state’s workforce by increasing the number of workers with the skills and training needed by employers.”
“Kansans have strong education values and believe education and training is the key to the state’s economic vitality,” said Dr. Jerry Farley, president of Washburn University. “Throughout Washburn’s 150 year history, offering all persons the chance to learn is our core mission.”
Through the grant, Washburn Tech will offer courses for a Certified Production Training (CPT) credential. Classes will include contextualized learning as well as theoretical concepts to prepare women nearing release from incarceration for job opportunities available in northeast Kansas. Additionally, Topeka Correctional Facility and Commerce Workforce Services staff will coordinate and deliver “soft skills” training for students.
“Providing offenders, especially those with higher levels of risk and need, with technical job skills and working with them on readiness, is a key ingredient in offenders successfully rejoining society,” said Ray Roberts, Kansas Secretary of Corrections. “When offenders can get and keep jobs, they are more likely to be successful upon their return by becoming contributing citizens, providing for their families and remaining crime-free. This program will help female offenders reach this goal.”
Prior to placement in CPT classes, potential participants will complete a KANSASWORKS WORKReady! assessment. Those receiving at least a Bronze level certification will be immediately eligible for entry into training. Those receiving less than a Bronze certificate will be placed in remedial skills training to prepare for eventual placement in the CPT program.
“Washburn and Washburn Tech are delighted to be a part of this Second Chance program, and provide offenders with the training and opportunity to improve themselves, their families and their economic future,” said Clark Coco, dean of Washburn Tech.