When Andres Nino was close to finishing his time as an inmate with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, it weighed heavily on his mind how he would support himself and his family.
It is difficult for former inmates to find work after incarceration and Nino knew it would be a struggle. He was able to turn his life around through the New Beginnings initiative at Alvin Community College by enrolling in the Welding program
“This program opened so many doors for me,” Nino said. Without New Beginnings, he said, “I would be right back where I came from.”
Nino spoke during a visit by Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Labor Alberto Trevino III who signed a $350,000 check to support the program at ACC.
“It gives them the hope and the courage to become better,” Trevino said. “I’m excited to see their future and their independence moving forward. I think it’s vital that we equip Texas workers with the skills needed to excel.”
ACC was one of 18 colleges to receive support for New Beginnings from the Texas Talent Connection Grant program in 2021. New Beginnings provides training and education to students recently released from incarceration or are soon to be released.
“This program supported by the Texas Talent Connection has added truck drivers to the roads, line-men to the power grid, counselors to help those with addiction issues, chefs to the restaurants, welders to the construction industry, and educated entrepreneurs to the economic health of the state,” ACC President Dr. Robert J. Exley said.
“Alvin Community College and Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast are making a difference in the lives of people across Texas by ensuring second-chance individuals receive the skills needed to succeed upon reentry,” Trevino said. “This project demonstrates the leadership for groundbreaking programs to ensure every Texan gets a second chance.”
After signing a check during a ceremony, commissioner Trevino and others toured many of the programs and facilities that have been supported by the Texas Workforce Commission including Welding, Process Technology, Nursing and Cybersecurity.
Nino is set to graduate from the program in a year. Programs such as New Beginnings lay the foundation and gives hope for incarcerated students to change their lives and the lives of their families.
“I want this program to continue for other students,” he said. “This program provides opportunities that didn’t previously exist.”
The Texas Talent Connection Grants are awarded by the Texas Workforce Investment Council and administered by the Texas Workforce Commission. They were created to support innovative education and workforce skills training programs that lead to successful job placement, increased wages, and improved job retention, as well as programs serving workforce populations with special needs.