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Walmart Foundation grant paves the way for job training in Iowa prisons

First training-of-its-kind to benefit employers and soon-to-be released prisoners

Thanks to Jobs for the Future and the Walmart Foundation grant, Des Moines Area Community College, the Iowa Department of Corrections and Central Iowa Works are offering a Transportation, Distribution and Logistics certificate training program for select students in Iowa’s correctional system.

The first group of 15 at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville will graduate in May. Then other classes will start this summer at ICIW and the men’s Newton Correctional Facility.

“This is the first training-of-its-kind in the country,” said Hollie Coon, Director of DMACC’s Southridge Center. “Prospective employers will be involved in the selection and training process. The result will be these women and men will be work-ready the day they are released from Iowa’s correctional system.”

The prisoners chosen for this program are non-violent offenders who are a few months away from being released. DMACC is conducting the training and Central Iowa Works is providing supports and soft skills such as mock interviews and presentation skills.

“This seven-week training program will help Central Iowa employers find qualified workers while helping these Iowans finding long-term work,” said Pat Steele, Site Director for Central Iowa Works, a workforce agency dedicated to unemployed and underemployed Iowans, administered by DMACC and the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

The four certificates include:

• Logistics

• Logistics Technician

• Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

• Fork Lift Operation

The training includes on-site class instruction by DMACC faculty, computer simulations and even hands-on operation of the forklifts. The starting wage rate is targeted to be $14 an hour.

“We chose the transportation, distribution and logistics (TDL) field because there are many opportunities for employment. This is a good match. Employers will get well trained, reliable workers and these students will be qualified for work upon release,” said Steele.

Each training session will last 7 – 8 weeks and will continue as long as funding is available. The first group is being paid for through the Iowa Department of Corrections and the second by the Walmart grant.

Last year, the Walmart Foundation awarded a $220,000 grant to the United Way of Central Iowa for a two-year grant to prepare workers for careers in transportation, distribution and logistics. This is phase two of that job training initiative.

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