Gov. Cooper awards grant to RCCC for prison reentry training program
By Liz Moomey
KANNAPOLIS — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has received a grant to provide training to formerly incarcerated individuals from the NCWorks Local Innovation Fund, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday at the North Carolina Research Campus.
The two-year implementation grant will provide $400,000 for the Re-Build your Future program for the community college. The program allows formerly incarcerated individuals to be trained to work in the light construction industry.
“We know that there are thousands of people coming out of our jails and prisons, coming back into society every year,” Cooper said. “I think all of us want them to be productive citizens. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, It’s the safe thing to do for communities, and they represent what could be a real benefit to our workforce and to a lot of employees across the state.”
Cooper said collaborating with community colleges, businesses and government entities will help North Carolinians find a job and a better paying one.
The community college will partner with the Centralina Workforce Development Board, the NCWorks Career Center in Cabarrus County, the North Carolina Department of Commerce Reentry Initiative, Cooperative Christian Ministries, Rowan Helping Ministries and the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office.
With the grant, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College will have reign over the structuring of the Re-Build your Future program to possibly duplicate across the state. Cooper said some of the best ideas come from the local communities.
“We’re excited to see how they do it,” Cooper said. “I have a statewide re-entry council that is concentrating on making sure we have better opportunities for people who are coming out of prison and helping them overcome the natural barriers that they face coming back into society.”
The re-entry initiative was introduced at the North Carolina Research Center in September. With a low unemployment rate and a need for more workers, North Carolina Department of Commerce re-entry initiative representatives said now is the time to give formerly incarcerated people a way to reenter into workforce.
Cooper said this is crucial to prevent former criminals from going back to prison because of the challenges that they encounter reentering into society, like housing, transportation and a job.
RCCC President Carol Spalding on Tuesday spoke about the benefit the college has on the community and its economy.
Spalding said the college has continued to thrive with its biotechnology program and the future addition of an Advanced Technology Center, which was funded by a 2014 bond. Cooper received a tour of the Research Campus, stopping in to see a simulated hospital room and a lab, ahead of the announcement.
On Tuesday, Cooper also announced several other $400,000 grants for innovative programs.
“Helping North Carolinians be job ready is critical to our economy and it’s critical to my vision for the state, which is this: I want a North Carolina where people are better educated, where they are healthier, where they have more money in their pockets and they have opportunities to live lives of purpose and abundance,” Cooper said.
Brunswick County will receive a grant for Pathways to Purpose to train construction and repair workers needed after Hurricane Florence’s damage. Western North Carolina Early Childhood Workforce Development Program will expand to train more early childhood educators.
Other programs received a one-year capacity grant. Wilkes County received a grant for rural transportation. Region Q Unified Communications Plan will support a collaboration between the business community and job seekers. The Comprehensive Workforce and Education Data Project for Mecklenburg county will use data to understand the community’s needs.
The six local partnerships totaled almost $1.5 million in grant money.