A program to help individuals coming out of the criminal justice system find jobs in the manufacturing industry is launching in Delaware County. The Judicial Users Manufacturing Partnership, or JUMP, was created by John Bush, a longtime employee of the Delaware County Probation Department, who says the goal is to remove barriers to employment while also helping address a labor shortage. The program recently received a $60,000 grant from the Ball Brothers Foundation in Muncie that will support the hiring of a program coordinator early next year.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Bush said the program was born out of his own efforts in the probation department.
“It was really just me kind of grassroots making phone calls and making connections and relationships with employers and trying to assist our clients any way we could in obtaining some meaningfulness in their lives and some connection and purpose,” said Bush. “The employers over the years, I’ve just developed a network.”
Bush met with the Muncie Manufacturing Alliance to pitch the program and to date, 23 local manufacturing companies have jumped on board to try and fill more than 400 open jobs in the county.
“The reception has been wonderful. I think a lot of the employers understand there’s a need, but also they understand there are individuals that while paying their debts to society, they still have the potential for change, and [the employers] really appreciate the relationship between the government and the judicial system in how we are supportive in that relationship to ensure longevity and ensure permanency.”
Through the program, employers have committed to paying approximately $15 per hour in order to help the participants earn a living wage and decrease the chance of recidivism.
Bush said one of the first employers to take part in the program is Magna Powertrain, which has a more than 430,000-square-foot facility in Muncie and employs nearly 600 people.
“We are proud to be a part of a community collaboration effort that helps solve multiple problems,” Stephen Brand, general manager at Magna Powertrain, said in written remarks. “It can lower the crime rate and reduce the burden on the judicial system, while trying to get people back into the productive workforce.”
The program also includes an education component offered by Ivy Tech Community College’s WorkMatters initiative, which provides non-credit certifications and enrollment in degree-seeking programs for individuals to obtain workforce credentials.
Bush said Ivy Tech jumped on board almost immediately.
“They saw a huge opportunity to work in tandem with essentially what the JUMP program is doing [which] is giving these individuals kind of a jump start,” he said. “And Ivy Tech saw the opportunity of education being the catalyst as part of their change. It gives people power over their lives again to begin that process of self-supporting independence.”
Bush said the WorkMatters initiative is the perfect next step from JUMP. He likens it to going from junior varsity to varsity.
“JUMP is kind of like JV, and we’re getting them in there to learn just a hard day’s work and the repetition. Ivy Tech gives them the skills, the education, the knowledge…to give them a professional path. As JUMP just gets them in there [and] shows them it can be done, Ivy Tech shows them how to make it into a career.”
JUMP is being operated by the Delaware County Probation Department with grant funding being managed by the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership.
“Ball Brothers Foundation is committed to strengthening programs that support workforce development,” Foundation CEO Jud Fisher said. “The JUMP program has already shown great promise, and we hope that with the funding granted and a dedicated coordinator, the program will continue to grow and further support our community’s needs.”
Bush plans to hire a program coordinator next month. Officials hope the program will ultimately be fully adopted by the Delaware County Council and receive additional funding to become a permanent part of the county government.
JUMP currently has about 55 individuals who have either been referred to employers or are in various stages of the program. Bush said he hopes to grow that number to about 100 participants on a rotating concurrent basis for the first year.
Looking long-term, Bush said he has hopes to expand the program to other areas beyond manufacturing such as hospitality, agriculture and customer service.
“There’s so much need in all sectors of our community that we hope to expand the JUMP program to not just be inclusive to just manufacturers…and maybe even expand into juvenile programs to where we could give some of our juveniles in the system some connection and purpose through skilled trades.”
You can learn more about the program in the video below: