Tuesday, July 02, 2019
A pilot program being administered by Iowa Central Community College, which allows inmates to earn a college education, could be one solution to Iowa’s workforce challenges, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“That’s the number one concern I hear when I talk to business and industry — that they need people,” Reynolds said Monday during a tour of the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City. “So this is an opportunity to address that.”
But the impact of the program, called Second Chance Pell, won’t be known until inmates who used it re-enter the workforce.
“We will be collecting data,” Beth Skinner, director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, said. “What type of job they get into, what wage they are making.”
Second Chance Pell was introduced in 2016. The program enables inmates who are within five years of release and who meet financial requirements to apply for federal Pell Grants. Those grants are then used to pay for classes offered by Iowa Central.
Iowa Central is one of 65 colleges in the United States participating in the program.
Inmates who qualify take two courses every seven weeks, according to Neale Adams, dean of business and industrial technology for Iowa Central Community College.
The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility and North Central Correctional Facility will have its first Associate of Arts degree graduates in a matter of weeks.
“We will have our first Associate of Arts graduates at the end of the fall 2019 semester,”Adams said.
Adams said the college has served 531 inmates since the Second Chance Pell began.
One of those inmates is Glenn Dickerson, who is serving time for burglary-related offenses. Dickerson was busy Monday working on an introduction to computers class.
Iowa Central began delivering its online program for the Second Chance Pell in August 2018.
“It’s a great opportunity to do something productive with my time,” Dickerson said.
He plans to transfer his credits to Kirkwood Community College when he is released at the end of August.