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Non-profit organization providing formerly incarcerated people with skills for the world of technology

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -For many looking for a second chance in the job market, it can be daunting.

Lincoln, nonprofit, Jason’s Heart offers paid apprenticeships in computer science and media for those with criminal records, among others.

It’s a way for people to learn critical skills and the model is set for them to eventually get full-time jobs in the tech industry.

Lesa Bulin is one of the first apprentices enrolled in the program. She is candid about her past – sharing that she had spent time behind bars, but said it has turned her life around. She graduated from Southeast Community College this year, but the job market, Bulin said, has been tough to tap into.

In total, she was turned down for about 70 jobs.

“I was found guilty of a drug trafficking conviction,” Bulin said. “And so, despite overwhelming college, I couldn’t even get an employer to talk to me.”

Bulin saw a 10/11 Now report earlier this year on Jason’s Heart offering apprenticeships and signed up soon after. Bulin and Micha Ketcham, the other participant in the program, are four months into their one-year apprenticeship.

Both have a criminal record but also a passion for work.

“From a young age, I was always trying to figure out how to come up with a reason why I needed to go to the computer,” Ketcham said.

In addition to learning skills, mentors take Ketcham and Bulin out into the field to work with clients. I hope to prepare them for a career after graduation.

“They’re entering the workforce, they’re raising taxes,” said Matt Fuller of the nonprofit. “You know they are doing all of this and this is what we need and with a huge labor shortage.”

For Bulin, it gave him a chance to come full circle.

“I was on medication,” Bulin said. “And so I can go back to those people who helped me get to where I am. Who saw me at the lowest is now watching me rise to the highest.

In addition to ex-offenders, the program also caters to veterans and people with low to moderate incomes.

Starting this coming Saturday, you can apply for their winter learning and next month they will have an open house on November 18 to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Apprenticeship Act.

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