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.
QA Commons and Missouri DOC awarded Ascendium grant to continue employability education with incarcerated learners
[Washington, DC – October 18, 2023]
Quality Assurance Commons (QA Commons) is delighted to announce it has been awarded a three-year grant from Ascendium Education Group to expand its work with the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC).
Grantmaking in Ascendium’s Expand Postsecondary Education in Prison focus area addresses barriers facing currently incarcerated adults who don’t have equitable access to high-quality postsecondary education. QA Commons will bring its expertise in ensuring learners are prepared with the Employability skills they need to succeed in the world of work. The project ultimately aims to increase education levels and employability among formerly incarcerated persons in Missouri.
This project will involve employability training for MDOC Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructors, running select CTE programs through QA Commons’ Essential Employability Qualities Certification (EEQ CERTTM) process, engaging formerly incarcerated persons with Success Coaches from the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network (FICGN), issuing skills badges to learners and instructors, working with Missouri Community Colleges to accept more credits from prison education programs and implementmentation of a learning and evaluation plan for the project.
“Ascendium recognizes that justice-impacted people face extensive barriers to continuing their education and participating in the labor market,” said Program Officer Ashley Parker. “While postsecondary education in prison programs provides critical academic and technical skills, often overlooked are the interpersonal skills and transitionary supports necessary for people to succeed upon release. We are excited to support QA Commons in exploring the ways in which employability and career success strategies can be better integrated into postsecondary education in prison programming, as well as the transitionary supports necessary for individuals to navigate barriers to achieving their academic and career goals.”
This grant builds upon a year of collaboration between QA Commons and MDOC where, using its employability framework, QA Commons trained and certified MDOC’s Employment Transition Specialist and Reentry Coordinators. MDOC’s employability curriculum, taught to incarcerated learners, was updated to ensure their training is relevant to and valuable for job attainment and success.
“We know employability preparation is an essential component of post-incarceration success, so we need to make sure Missourians are ready for the workforce before they walk out our doors,” said Missouri Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe. “Our goal in the state of Missouri is to ensure that people leaving state prisons get the career services they need, are employed within 30 days of release, and maintain employment for at least 90 days afterward. Our partnership with QA Commons helps get us there.”
Articles and blogs from Indeed, Accenture, recruiters, and companies all say the same thing – soft skills are critical to success in entry-level jobs, and employers find it easier to develop employees’ technical skills than to build their soft skills. With stronger training in soft skills, formerly incarcerated people will be better prepared for success after their release.
Terrell Blount, co-founder and Executive Director of the FICGN, helps people with prior legal system involvement attain higher education and achieve career success through support services, community organizing, and advocacy. ”FICGN is honored to take part in this important work. We recognize that interpersonal skills are essential for career success, yet they are often overlooked or not as robust in traditional educational programs preparing people for release. With this initiative, we’re not only offering high-quality employability skills training but also providing mentoring and a support network to assist individuals as they navigate their professional lives post-incarceration,” said Blount.
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About Quality Assurance Commons
A 501(c)3 organization, QA Commons’ mission is to ensure all learners are prepared for the changing dynamics of the workforce and economy. With its Employability Framework as a foundation, the organization provides assessment, technical assistance, professional development, program certification, student badging, and evaluation services. For more information, visit www.theqacommons.org.
Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates, and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color, and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates, and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system, and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit https://www.ascendiumphilanthropy.org.
About Missouri Department of Corrections
The Missouri Department of Corrections works to make Missouri safer. Throughout the state, 10,000 employees supervise 23,000 people in 20 institutions and 62,000 on probation and parole. The department fosters rehabilitation, treatment, and education to help ensure that justice-involved Missourians contribute to their communities, both inside and outside the walls. About 96 percent of people who enter the prison system are ultimately released into Missouri cities and towns. The department is committed to making sure they’re good neighbors. For more information, visit https:www.doc.mo.gov/programs/missouri-reentry-process.
About the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network
FICGN is the largest network of college-educated, previously incarcerated professionals in the world. The network provides members with a space for collective power to develop through professional connections and sharing of opportunities and accomplishments, as well as general academic and career support. For more information, visit www.ficgn.org.
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