Our response to COVID19

The QA Commons is mindful of the dramatic and transformational impact COVID-19 is having on all institutions of higher education. As an organization, we are adapting our services to support preparing graduates for the workplace that is now changing more precipitously than ever.


Employability Skills for Formerly Incarcerated Persons

Employability skills are needed by EVERYONE in the workforce – from CEO to middle managers to unskilled laborers. 2022 saw QA Commons expand its audiences, offerings, and reach. One interesting and rewarding (just completed) project has been with the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC), part of the department’s efforts to improve re-entry success.

With its Employability Framework and eight Essential Employability Qualities as the foundation, QA Commons engaged in an eight-week training with MDOC staff who are tasked with preparing their soon-to-be-released incarcerated population for employment. Nine Employment Transition Specialists and three Reentry Coordinators participated in the program. Additionally, QA Commons prepared and provided comprehensive employability curriculum materials to be used in the department.

The goal of the training was for participants to develop a deep understanding of the Essential Employability Qualities – both in order to train their (incarcerated) clients and for their own professional development. In addition to weekly discussions, participants engaged in a number of exercises. For example:

  • Outreach to and interviews with local employers
  • A mini “Toastmasters” session in which participants gave presentations and provided constructive feedback to their colleagues
  • Writing exercises with feedback on grammar and style
  • Panel discussion with national experts working with formerly incarcerated populations

“More than just providing traditional classroom instruction, we really wanted to make this an experience for participants,” said Michelle Deasy, Vice President of QA Commons. “We pushed participants out of their comfort zones a little bit and had them engage in higher order thinking – inovlving them in deep discussions and connecting their experience to the concepts and ideas presented. Participants really co-designed the updated curriculum alongside QA Commons.”

According to Alex Earls, MDOC’s Reentry Manager, “This project fits well with the department’s strategic direction.” Missouri is the first state to sign on to Reentry 2030, a Bureau of Justice Assistance-supported initiative that aims to dramatically improve reentry success for people exiting prison and those under supervision. By 2030, the Missouri Department of Corrections is committed to EXPANDING collaborations and partnerships with public and private entities to CONNECT incarcerated Missourians to employment and to PREPARE them to maintain their employment.

QA Commons is proud to have partnered with Missouri on this project and looks forward to doing more work in the field in the future..


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