Orange County Jail, Valencia College, and DEO potentially collaborating
From the Orange County Corrections Public Information Office
Orange County District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson convened a meeting to explore possible partnerships and collaboration among the jail, Valencia College and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). The meeting was held May 17th at the Orange County Jail. Along with the Commissioner and his aides, there were several representatives from Corrections and Valencia College there. In attendance from the DEO were Executive Director Cissy Proctor and External Affairs Manager Donna Wright. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity assists the Governor in advancing Florida’s economy by championing the state’s economic development vision and by administering state and federal programs and initiatives to help visitors, citizens, businesses, and communities. The department offers information about workforce programs, community development opportunities, and economic development initiatives and programs.
Commissioner Nelson used the jail’s successful construction initiative as a springboard for additional job placement programs. The Construction Program gives offenders real-world skills and job placement assistance upon release. The program operates in partnership with Valencia College, Goodwill Industries, and SunTrust Bank. Valencia College provides tools and equipment and facilitates the course curriculum. Goodwill Industries provides job placement and follow-up after the inmate is released from jail. SunTrust Bank provides financial literacy education for managing the wages that graduates of the program earn.
“This program is working well and making a difference,” said Commissioner Nelson. “If we can replicate it in other fields, all the better,” he said. During the visit to jail, attendees had the opportunity to hear from inmates completing the program. All the inmates who spoke applauded the program for giving them hope and the opportunity to turn their lives around. Even better, only 10 percent have been rearrested compared with a national recidivism rate of 56 percent.
Joe Battista, Valencia’s Vice President for Global, Professional and Continuing Education said the College is open to exploring additional opportunities to partner. “In addition to construction, the fields of healthcare and hospitality are hot—particularly here in Central Florida,” he said.
Cissy Proctor from DEO agreed and expressed appreciation for the visit to Orange County Corrections. “These kinds of experiences truly have the potential to be life-changing for individuals and we 100 percent support such opportunities,” she said.