Logo for Newslink Indiana at Ball State University Logo for Newslink Indiana at Ball State University

New program at Ivy Tech helps convicted criminals

New Work Matters program aims to reduce recidivism.

MUNCIE, Ind. — A new program called Work Matters, unique to Ivy Tech Community College in Muncie, aims to help individuals in the community that have been involved in the criminal justice system. 

The Work Matters program launched this past August and partners with Muncie manufacturing plants to provide jobs for people getting out of jail and at the same time help the economy by providing the plants employees that they need. 

“We had some business come to us and say ‘hey, how can we increase the workforce?’ This is a group of individuals who may be sitting at home detention and may have some time on their hands,” said Jennifer Gasiorek, Vice Chancellor of Workforce Partnerships and Strategic communication. 

The Work Matters program currently has 15 students enrolled, all previously justice-involved. The students get to choose what work path they go into, with some in HVAC (heating and air), business and electrical just to name a few. 

“We work with the local probation department to feed us qualified applicants for our program,” Gasiorek said.

Ivy tech offers eight and 16 week programs for Work Matters. All who take it must have a no credit class on life skills. Although the program just started in August, they are already seeing successes within the program. 

“They are literally reintegrating into society, and they don't feel good about who they are, what they have done, and most importantly who they have hurt. So, this does mean alot to them,” said Stacy Bell, Work Matters liaison at Ivy Tech. 

Bell works to guide them through the program and encourages their success. 

“When they enter the building before they sign up for the program, they begin to walk more slowly toward my office. They hang their head, they start telling me that they can't, and I tell them, hey, you got this, pick your head up,” Bell said. 

If you or someone you know is interested in the Work Matters program at Ivy Tech Muncie, students can join at any time by emailing Stacy Bell at ebell78@ivytech.edu 

Contact Terra Konieczny with questions or concerns at Tbkonieczny@bsu.edu