MRPC News Release

For immediate release
June 29, 2017

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge at (573) 265-2993

MRPC board learns about Rehabilitation through Innovation program in Crawford County

ST. JAMES­—Dr. Sean Siebert attended the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board of directors meeting June 8 to discuss Rehabilitation through Innovation, a pilot program conducted in the Crawford County Jail. The Rehabilitation through Innovation program was a joint effort between MRPC, Meramec Community Enhancement Corporation (MCEC), using a Delta Regional Authority workforce development grant, and Dr. Siebert to get Crawford County certified as a Work Ready community and addresses a larger problem of workforce availability.

About two years ago, MCEC was awarded a DRA workforce initiative grant. The project was to assist Meramec’s four Delta counties – Crawford, Dent, Phelps and Washington – become Certified Work Ready Communities. By early May 2017, all but Crawford County were certified. Crawford County still needed to test a few more emerging (high school) workers and transitioning (unemployed) workers. At that point, MRPC and MCEC solicited proposals looking for new and innovative ideas to reach the transitioning workers and get the county certified. Through that request and additional conversations, Rehabilitation through Innovation was born. With Rehab through Innovation, Dr. Siebert reworked his five-week Entrepreneur and Innovation program to focus on incarcerated, unemployed inmates who would soon be re-entering the workforce and included WorkKeys testing in the program.

With the support and permission of the Crawford County Sheriff Darin Layman and the Crawford County Commission, the Crawford County Jail became the training ground for the five-week pilot program. The program had five educational goals:

  • To help participants understand that entrepreneurship is a mindset, not an occupation;
  • To enable participants to develop an entrepreneurial mindset while connecting their world to the world around them;
  • To provide a positive, quality learning experience so the vital business and life skills begin to emerge for each participant;
  • To provide information, insight, and WorkKeys assessments to assist them with workforce options and opportunities; and
  • To show participants how their knowledge and skills, identified through WorkKeys testing, apply directly to their future workforce opportunities.

Some 36 individuals from the Crawford County jail were tested in total; 30 out of the 36 passed the test with the majority obtaining silver certification, meaning they are certified for 70 percent of the jobs currently available. After the individuals at the jail tested, Crawford County became 100 percent certified as a Work Ready Community.
“It was the collaboration that made it a success,” Dr. Siebert said. “ Being able to work with MRPC was truly instrumental. The sheriff and his entire team were amazing. And then the Missouri Career Center, Chris Link and Trish Rodgers, being there once these individuals bond out and then just the residents of the jail themselves because they gave comment and were the ones that went and taught other people about the program in the jail. It created a culture and it was a culture of success.”

Once out of jail, with a WorkKeys certificate in hand, program participants were able to meet with the Rolla office of the Missouri Career Center to work on resumes, interview skills and computer skills in an effort to help them find a job.

“The feedback on the pilot project has been amazing,” said MRPC Executive Director Bonnie Prigge after the meeting. “Workforce is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in our region, and this program has the potential to change the culture and mindset and take those who are unemployable and turn them into productive workers. We hope we can find resources to replicate this program in other counties.”

In other business, the MRPC board:

  • Discussed strategies on keeping federal and state legislators, as well as, their local staffs advised on the importance of funding sources like Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), DRA, and Economic Development Administration (EDA). Justin Klocke and John McKenzie, representatives from Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office, were present at the meeting;
  • Set the Annual Dinner ticket price at $30 an individual. The annual dinner is planned Oct. 26 at the Salem Community Center at the Armory in Salem;
  • Learned that the Meramec Regional Community Foundation fund has passed the $1 million level; and
  • Received an update on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 23, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at www.meramecregion.orgor on Facebook at


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