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Hope for Prisoners helping Nevada inmates with education

Posted: 11:46 PM, Mar 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-13 02:46:17-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Some of Nevada’s top law enforcement leaders say educating inmates will make the community safer.

13 Action News Anchor Beth Fisher has information on a program that's “Raising the Bar” behind bars.

Rebecca Schmitt has never been more excited about her future. She's taking classes at the College of Southern Nevada in construction management and apprenticing with Labor Union 872.

She's also finishing up a prison sentence.

"I've made mistakes. But I know that I deserve a better life," Schmitt said.

Rebecca is like the vast majority of inmates who want to change, but they don't know how.

Enter the College of Southern Nevada and Hope for Prisoners.

The two are teaming up to bring education to inmates so that when they get out, they're employable.

"If you talk to employers, they have a challenge getting skilled workers. So, what a better opportunity than to connect individuals that want to work and to give them the skills they need to be employed,” said CSN President Dr. Federico Zaragoza.

Inmates can choose the college route or vocational training. Either way, they are preparing for a law abiding, tax paying life on the outside.

"Providing them with a skill set so they can be gainfully employed and fast-tracked right into the middle class,” Jon Ponder, founder, and CEO of Hope for Prisoners said.

And that's Rebecca's dream. She said she not afraid of hard work but just needed someone to give her a chance.

"It wouldn't be easy because of the gap in my work history and because I'm a felon. It's not as easy as when you have Hope for Prisoners behind you," Schmitt said. "I've been waiting a long time to do this."

What is Raising The Bar?

Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future. If you have a story idea, email us at raisingthebar@ktnv.com.

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