Spartanburg Community College's Corporate and Community Education (CCE) division was recently named the 2015 South Carolina Association for Higher Continuing Education (SCAHCE) professional award recipient in the category of Outstanding Continuing Education Cooperative Program for the College's Operation Educate initiative.
Presented at the SCAHCE's conference in Columbia, the annual award recognizes effective cooperative programs in continuing education among two or more educational institutions and/or state agencies, non-profits, public sector or private sector partners. A cash award of $200 was presented to SCC as the winning organization.
"We are extremely honored to be chosen as the recipient of the SCAHCE's Outstanding Continuing Education Cooperative Program Award this year and especially for our inaugural Operation Educate program," said Nannette Bongiovi, CCE's director of Corporate Training and Career Development at SCC. "This award would not have been possible without the contributions, support and collaborative efforts of our partnering agencies - Spartanburg County Detention Center, Upstate Workforce Investment Board, SC Works Upstate and the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department. Through our partnership, we hope to break the cycle of crime by providing training and instruction to inmates in areas where jobs are readily available, as well as teaching critical skills needed for job placement."
Bongiovi goes on to explain that Operation Educate is a voluntary program that brings the educational resources of SCC's CCE to the Spartanburg County jail to give those incarcerated the job skills and workplace habits necessary to gain and keep employment once released. "The county jail houses, on average, 744 inmates per day, and less than 6 percent of that population is moved on to the prison system; the remaining 94 percent are released back into our community. And, an average inmate stays up to 102 days - some awaiting trial, unable to make bond; some released on bond and awaiting trial; and some are sentenced."
Inmates participating in Operation Educate receive "stackable credentials" from SCC, meaning they may acquire additional skills and/or training from SCC to complement those skills already earned if they wish to pursue additional educational opportunities in the future. Additionally, the training that inmates receive while incarcerated is for job skills currently available with local employers willing to hire these recently incarcerated participants. The first class of Operation Educate graduates included eight female inmates who studied SCC's office assistant program. The inaugural female class graduated in May, and the second class, comprised of male inmates, will graduate December 8, after completing a manufacturing helper program.
"Operation Educate is a worthy effort for all involved," explains Major Neal Urch, director of Jail Operations at the Spartanburg County Detention Center. "It has the potential to not only save taxpayers money by reducing the jail population and recidivism rate, but it can also have a significant impact on the lives of the inmates receiving the training as well as their families. Graduating inmates can set a new pattern of employment for their children and family members by simply taking advantage of this worthwhile opportunity."
"Operation Educate offers a second chance at life for the graduates- a second chance to gain skills, find jobs and support themselves and their family," added SCC President Henry C. Giles, Jr. "And, the SCAHCE award confirms the outcome we hoped for - institutions working together to solve problems and overcome barriers through realistic, affordable solutions. We are grateful to our partners for working alongside us to implement this program, and we hope these inaugural classes are the first of many more to come over the years."
For more information on the Operation Educate program, contact Nannette Bongiovi at (864) 592-4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.