Education and workforce training are the keys to success for women at Baylor Correctional Institution as they prepare for life after prison.
When Dr. Dwight BoNey speaks about things that can be done to help women at Baylor Correctional Institution prepare for successful lives after their releases—and avoid returning to the prison—he points to one main area: Education.
“It’s the most important thing when talking about rehabilitation,” explains BoNey, who has spent eight years as a teacher and supervisor at Baylor. “You have to provide programming that reflects what the population needs. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘You can do whatever you want in the world, as long as they are hiring.’”
One of the opportunities Baylor has created for its women is a pilot workforce development course called CXWorks, formed in partnership with Tech Impact and funded by corporate partners Barclays and Capital One to build customer service skills. The program, which has already proven successful in Las Vegas, takes place over eight weeks and builds skills necessary and provides certification. The first cohort of six women graduated last spring, and there are plans for future iterations.
CXWorks is an immersive program that took place five nights a week, for three hours at a time, and then required those involved to work on their own time creating résumés and building other skills they worked on during the classes. Though it was done remotely because of COVID-19 protocols, the results were encouraging, and a second cohort is expected to start training this fall.
“The goal is to create a pipeline where employers can ask us, ‘Is anyone leaving soon that has these particular skills?’” BoNey says.
The ability to leave Baylor with a set of skills builds confidence among women and helps them find work that will lead to productive lives, he explains. BoNey says that those inmates who enter Baylor without substantive skills and leave not having developed any are more likely to return to prison in the future. In addition to the CXWorks program, Baylor offers the opportunity for women to get their high school diplomas.
“It creates stability for them,” BoNey says.
Tech Impact has provided workforce development programs for more than a decade and has run the ITWorks curriculum in Delaware for several years. Contact with Baylor was made through Barclays, and some employees of the financial institution in the area volunteer to teach “soft” skills, such as interview skills and time management. Tech Impact’s experience and relationships in the field help considerably.
“We have a pretty extensive network of employment partners that work in Delaware,” says Tech Impact CEO Patrick Callihan. “We think this program provides great opportunities. The jobs can pay between $35,000 to $40,000 a year with benefits. And many can be done remotely. That removes barriers.”
The future looks good for CXWorks, and it will likely become more widespread at Baylor and throughout the state.
“This is very rewarding work,” Callihan says. “It’s exciting. If it continues to go well, there will be opportunities to expand.”
And help even more women re-enter society successfully.