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The addition of a new veterans wing at Tipton Correctional Center has opened the doors for a college program to help veterans pursue postsecondary education while incarcerated.

The program, called Veterans Upward Bound, is administered by the University of Central Missouri.

The growth of programs specifically aimed at inmates at the Tipton correctional facility is being handled by Tonya Kuranda, director of Veterans Upward Bound Program Services at UCM.

Kuranda, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, said the program is one of two in the state. It will become the first of its kind to provide services to qualified veterans preparing for life after their release from prison.

The program was established at UCM in 2017 with help from a $1.3 million federal grant. Its intention is to assist veterans in a 10-county region to develop academic and other requisite skills needed for acceptance and success for a program of post-secondary education.

"We serve 125 veterans per year with two-thirds being low-income and first-generation students," Kuranda said.

Programs could vary and include workshops that could help incarcerated veterans in mathematics, college planning, academic skills and career interest assessments.

Sean Farmer, functional unit manager for Tipton Correctional Center, said this program could be beneficial for incarcerated veterans.

"We know that the incarcerated veteran population has certain resources available to them because of their prior service," Farmer said. "By allowing the veteran population to live together in one unit, these resources can provide them services more efficiently, and the offenders can serve as resources to each other by sharing their common background."

Farmer also said: "They are allowing our offenders to pursue not only college courses but vocational programs as well. These opportunities will greatly improve their chances and finding meaningful employment upon release, which in turn reduces the risk of recidivism."

To learn more about Veterans Upward Bound, call Kuranda at 660-543-4785 or email her at kuranda@ucmo.edu.

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