Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Rio Salado College Wins 2019 NACCE Fast Pitch Competition and People’s Choice Award

photo shows contest winner holding $21,000 check with 5 other people in the photo


Rio Salado College’s Incarcerated Re-Entry (IRE) team won the Fast Pitch Trades Competition at the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) annual conference in Newport Beach, CA on Oct. 15, 2019. The prize, $21,000. The team also took home the People’s Choice Award, which included a $1,000 cash prize.

The fast pitch entry was submitted by Rio Salado Faculty Chair of Applied Technology Rich Cuprak, who took to the stage with Rio Salado IRE Director Lisa Preston, to make a compelling case for funding to purchase electronic training kits.

The training kits will help IRE students at Perryville and Lewis prisons learn skills that are in high-demand in the Construction-Electric industry. These additional skillsets will help increase their prospects for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities— and hopefully reduce their rates of recidivism.

“Funding is tight, and we didn’t have the resources to procure these training kits, so this award means a great deal to us and the students we serve,” said Rich Cuprak.

“This win is really about the students, said Lisa Preston. “The money will go a long way in helping them to hone skills necessary to gain employment, which will increase their chances of success upon release. I am so fortunate to be a part of a program that, through education, provides individuals the opportunity to turn their lives around.”

Pictured above (left to right): President and CEO of the NC IDEA Foundation Thom Ruhe, Rich Cuprak, Lisa Preston, Incoming CEO of the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Carlene Cassidy, The Lemelson Foundation Coordinator Rachel Brunette and Founder of the Manodharma Raj Rajagopal.