By Lesley Devoss—
MUNCIE, IN— Ivy Tech Community College, local employers, and the problem-solving courts joined forces in 2021 to form WorkMatters, a collaborative initiative aimed at developing a talent pipeline of highly trained employees for Delaware and Henry County. The program has grown since its founding, developing into a multifaceted program that provides support to more than justice-involved individuals.
This multifaceted program focuses on supporting underrepresented groups including justice-involved, justice-impacted, and non-traditional students. The program supports students with credit recovery, employment opportunities, mental health and educational assistance.
For those who are justice-involved, the program helps them secure stable employment and establish a successful reentry into society. This effectively reduces recidivism rates for these individuals. Justice-impacted individuals are given the same opportunities, helping them reestablish a stable life after they were impacted by the criminal justice system.
Joshua Priest was referred to the program through the Delaware County Probation Office’s JUMP program. He entered the welding program offered at Ivy Tech Community College and credits the WorkMatters program with giving him confidence in his ability to regain his life and start anew as an underwater welder.
“The WorkMatters program and Stacy Bell, the WorkMatters Liaison, gave me a chance to make my life so much better. They went out of their way to help me get work boots because I didn’t have the money to buy any! Going through this program has given me the confidence and made me realize that I can do anything with my future and now, after I graduate, I will be pursuing a career as an underwater welder,” Priest said.
The program offers a wide range of services, including workforce certifications, skills training, soft skills development, access to premier partner employers, and ongoing support. Participants have access to local community resource partners, faith-based organizations, and Ivy Tech’s Student Success Champion network. The program works with local employer partners, providing participants with temporary employment while attending Ivy Tech classes. Work and class schedules are designed to coordinate to eliminate conflicts. Employers and Ivy Tech Community College coordinate to manage any changing restrictions from the criminal justice side.
On May 5, the Indiana Office of Career and Technical Education, under the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, and the Indiana Association for Career and Technical Education, presented Ivy Tech Muncie-Henry County the Award for Excellence for Outstanding Postsecondary Partnership. The Award recognized the WorkMatters program, and the partnerships formed with local employers.
“The WorkMatters program is critical in addressing the challenges faced by those who are involved with the criminal justice system. Both justice-involved individuals who are directly involved with the court system and individuals who were impacted by the system,” Jeffrey D. Scott, Chancellor for Ivy Tech Community College Muncie-Henry County, said. “This collaboration fundamentally helps these individuals rebuild their lives and contribute positively to our communities.”
The WorkMatters program is open to justice-involved and -impacted individuals through Delaware and Henry County. This includes those who have been incarcerated, are on probation, parole, or other type of community supervision. For those who are justice-involved, a referral from the court system or responsible agency is preferred. Justice-impacted individuals or those with previous involvement with the system do not require a referral and can speak directly to the WorkMatters Liaison.
To learn more about the WorkMatters program, visit Ivy Tech Community College Muncie-Henry County online at ivytech.edu/locations/muncie/partnerships-special-programs/workmatters-program/ or call at 765-289-2291 ext. 1272.
About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns to the needs of the community. The College provides seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor’s degree. Follow Ivy Tech on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for the most up-to-date information.