MUNCIE, IN — This fall, Ball Brothers Foundation awarded a $60,000 grant to help officially launch the Judicial Users Manufacturing Partnership (JUMP) program in Delaware County.
The JUMP program was created by John Bush, a 15-year employee of the Delaware County Probation Department. During his time with the department, he has seen first-hand the barriers to employment that are faced by justice-involved individuals. Bush proposed the JUMP program as a solution to multiple congruent problems facing Delaware County and as a way to guide individuals to paths outside of the justice system. “The justice system has to learn to be a source of inspiration for individuals who are considering change,” Bush posited. “The justice system has to try and educate and assist these individuals—who are in a stage of crisis in their life—to find another way.”
As a collaboration between the Delaware County Probation system, Ivy Tech’s WorkMatters initiative, and 23 local manufacturing companies, JUMP directly connects justice-involved individuals in Delaware County with meaningful employment and wrap-around support. Because perpetual poverty is the strongest predictor of recidivism in the criminal justice system, the program’s goal is to give formerly incarcerated individuals employable skills and access to stable jobs and income—while also reducing critical labor shortages in the manufacturing sector of Delaware County.
According to the Muncie Manufacturing Alliance’s estimates, there are currently over 400 unfilled manufacturing jobs in Delaware County. Twenty-three manufacturers have paired with the Probation Department to fill these positions through the JUMP program. To ensure these populations can earn a living wage and decrease the chance of recidivism, partnering employers will pay approximately $15 per hour. “We are proud to be a part of a community collaboration effort that helps solve multiple problems. It can lower the crime rate and reduce the burden on the judicial system, while trying to get people back into the productive workforce,” said Stephen Brand, General Manager at Magna Powertrain—one of the employers involved in the program.
In addition to employment, the program utilizes Ivy Tech’s WorkMatters initiative to offer educational opportunities including non-credit certifications and enrollment in degree seeking programs to obtain workforce credentials. “We believe that education is the catalyst. Training and skills development can provide a pathway for these individuals to avoid the revolving door of the justice system and become productive, positive members of our community,” said Jeff Scott, Chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Muncie Campus. “Ivy Tech continually collaborates with community, industry, and government entities to do the right thing for the right reasons.”
Because the program is equal parts corrections and education, the operation and facilitation of the JUMP program will be handled by Delaware County Probation. The program is seeking to hire a program coordinator by January 2023. Grant funding for the program is being managed by East Central Indiana Regional Partnership.
“Ball Brothers Foundation is committed to strengthening programs that support workforce development,” reflected Jud Fisher, President and CEO. “The JUMP program has already shown great promise, and we hope that with the funding granted and a dedicated coordinator, the program will continue to grow and further support our community’s needs.”
Funding from Ball Brothers Foundation will assist with staffing costs to operate the program in its first year. Once the program has shown further success, it is the hope of the Delaware County Probation Department and Board of Judges that the program will be fully adopted by the Delaware County Council and receive further funding to become a permanent fixture within Delaware County government.
About Ball Brothers Foundation
Ball Brothers Foundation is one of the state’s oldest and largest family foundations. In 2022, the foundation paid out $10 million in grants to support arts and culture, education, the environment, health, human services, and public affairs. The Muncie-based private foundation gives priority to projects and programs that improve the quality of life in the foundation’s home city, county, and state.