Palm Beach State College has been invited by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in its Second Chance Pell experiment, which will provide more education opportunities for incarcerated individuals in Palm Beach and Martin counties.
The initiative, first created in 2015, provides need-based federal Pell grants for individuals in federal and state prisons to enroll in post-secondary programs offered at local colleges and universities or distance learning providers. PBSC is among a new group of 67 schools invited to participate this year.
“We are focused on workforce development and improving the lives of citizens in our community,” said Nikole Konieczny, PBSC’s director of corporate training. “This effort assists by reducing recidivism and providing career pathways that are associated with sustainable jobs.”
PBSC was among more than 180 colleges and universities that submitted letters of interest to participate in the initiative, according to the Department of Education. The initiative is in line with PBSC’s existing educational outreach work at the Sago Palm Re-Entry Center in Pahokee. Through a partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections, the college’s Corporate & Continuing Education Department began offering HVAC and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operation Specialist training programs in March 2019. Then it expanded the contract to include NCCER HVAC Core & Level 1, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operation Specialist Refresher, NCCER Plumbing Core & Level 1 and Landscape & Horticulture Specialist training programs.
Upon final approval from the Department of Education for the Second Chance Pell experiment, the college will move forward with plans to add a degree program in hospitality and tourism management to its offerings at the Sago Palm Re-Entry Center and begin offering a degree program in landscape and horticulture management at the Martin Correctional Institution. The target year for offering the two degree programs is 2022.
Serving 49,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County, providing bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State College offers more than 130 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves. Learn more at www.palmbeachstate.edu.