CSUSB LAUNCHES NEW PROGRAM TO PREPARE PAROLEES FOR SUCCESS The College of Extended Learning at California State University, San Bernardino has launched a new Water Efficient Landscape, Entrepreneurial Skills and Soft Skills (WELESSS) Program designed to prepare California parolees for success after imprisonment.
Supported by a San Bernardino Employment and Training Agency Grant, the program will be conducted in partnership with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Inland Empire Women’s Business Center and the CSUSB Water Resources Institute. Parolees have been referred to the WELESSS program through their involvement with California New Start prison-to-employment program.
The state of California is widely known for consistently having one of the highest recidivism rates in the United States. In 2010, California’s recidivism rate was 67.5 percent. Recidivism is defined as an individual instance or chronic tendency of previously convicted parolees to be involved in a repetition of criminal patterns.
The Water Efficient Landscape, Entrepreneurial Skills and Soft Skills Program is one program among many created to help reduce California’s recidivism rate. Numerous statistical studies have shown that a parolee who finds and maintains a steady job – and who also has stable housing and avoids substance abuse – is more likely to avoid subsequent criminal offenses.
“We are thrilled to offer this program to California parolees. The WELESSS program will not only help reduce California’s recidivism rate, but the program is also hugely beneficial to our environment,” said Dr. Jim Stretch, assistant dean of CSUSB’s College of Extended Learning. “Water is a very precious
resource that makes life, as we know it in Southern California possible. The students will be prepared to answer the call as the demand for water efficient landscaping design and installation becomes a crucial part of Southern California's strategy to sustainably manage our precious water resources.”
The WELESSS program will include 236 total hours of education. The water efficient landscaping segment of the program will be broken down into approximately 66 hours of formal classroom training and 134 hours of field experience, hands-on-learning and demonstrations at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. The Inland Empire Women’s Business Center will provide the entrepreneurial skills segment of the program, which will be approximately 24 hours of small business preparation on how to incorporate a business, draft a business plan, create a marketing plan and mange business financials. Cal State San Bernardino instructors will teach the soft skills segment of the program on campus at the Yasuda Center. For approximately 12 hours, the students will be taught varying levels of written and technology soft skills via an interactive workshop that incorporates videos, presentations, role-plays and simulations.
“This WELESSS program gives parolees a second chance in life. The program will give parolees a marketable skill in landscape design and maintenance, and teach them how to think entrepreneurially – gifts that most small business owners will say are invaluable. The students that successfully graduate from the program will have the knowledge and tools to build a business that will help sustain them, their families and their future as productive members of the Inland Empire business community,” said Anthony Ragland, marketing director for the College of Extended Learning.