Project 17
A Regional Economic Development Initiative

2014 Project 17 Southeast Kansas Unconference 10/16

Project 17 is excited to present the inaugural Southeast Kansas Unconference on Thursday, October 16, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Unconference will offer an opportunity for everyone involved with different aspects of Project 17 to come together and discuss whatever topics they feel are pertinent to continuing to progress and make positive changes in the 17-county project region. The event will serve as an annual meeting of sorts, with the rules and agenda set by attendees to entice action and keep discussions interesting, pertinent, and inspiring. A few possible session topics include but are not limited to: Entrepreneurship, Workforce, Business Development, Education, and Healthcare. YOU decide!

Attendees will also get to learn more about Project 17 as a whole and will hear from keynote speakers Ken Brock of Names and Numbers (Pittsburg) and Joe Bisogno, founder of Mr. Goodcents.

The Unconference will take place at the Pittsburg State University College of Technology/Kansas Technology Center located at 909 E. Ford Ave., Pittsburg, KS 66762. General registration pricing is $35 and the student rate is $25. Lunch is included.

For more information and to register please visit: For questions please contact Heather at

The Unconference is proudly brought to you by Project 17, The Innovative Business Resource Center, Pittsburg State University, and NetWork Kansas.

Circles Kickoff Events in Chanute, Ottawa, & Pittsburg: Week of 9/8

Project 17 is partnering with Circles USA to present an exciting introduction to new programming geared toward breaking the cycle of generational poverty in the project’s 17-county region. Kickoff events will take place in three different cities: Chanute, Ottawa, and Pittsburg, during the week of September 8th.

At the kickoff events, community members and the surrounding areas will have a chance to hear from Circles founder and CEO, Scott Miller, to learn about how Circles has worked across the country and how Circles starting in these cities will help equip families and the community to break the cycle of poverty. Through Circles, participants increase their earned income, build assets and lessen their debt burden, increase their self-confidence and skills, create a more qualified workforce, and create a stronger community economy.

Business leaders, human service organizations, the faith community, and the public are all invited to come and learn new ways that will help and complement the great work already going on to assist people with improving their lives and strengthening their families.


Circles Kickoff Event Schedules:

First Baptist Church Good News Center located at 118 N. Forest Ave., Chanute

Session for business leadership and human resource professionals - 3:00-4:30 PM
Sessions for human service organizations, the faith community, & interested citizens/general public - 9:00-10:30 AM & 5:30-7:00 PM

Neosho County Community College Ottawa Campus located at 900 East Logan St., Ottawa
Session for business leadership and human resource professionals - 9:00-10:30 AM
Sessions for human service organizations, the faith community, & interested citizens/general public - 1:00-2:30 PM

Via Christi Chapel located at 1 Mount Carmel Way, Pittsburg
Session for business leadership and human resource professionals - 10:00-11:30 AM 
Sessions for human service organizations, the faith community, & interested citizens/general public - 1:00-2:30 PM


Circles currently exist in eight Kansas communities and more than 60 other communities across the United States. It is through the efforts of committed local volunteers and Project 17 that Circles will be starting soon in Ottawa, Pittsburg, and Chanute. Kickoff event attendees will also learn about Project 17 and statistics about poverty in their own community.

For more information about Circles USA please visit

For questions or more details about these meetings please email Heather Morgan -

To view the official press releases for each location please click the appropriate city name here: Chanute, Ottawa, Pittsburg.

Relevant Websites and Soft Skill Training

Mid-Kansas CAP:                    

SE-KS CAP (SEK-CAP):         

East Central-KS CAP (ECKAN):

Circles USA:                             

Character First Program         

Partners in Change Program 

Basic Employability Skills Training


Soft Skill Programs at Community Colleges

Neosho County Community College- Partners in Change

Designed so participants recognize they are the essential ingredient in their own success.  196 clock hours over the course of six weeks, starting at 2 hours per day and increasing to 8 hours per day.  Participants learn how to better manage their lives by developing personal life skills as well as employment skills.  Areas addressed include:  career planning, job search techniques, professional development and job retention strategies, personal goal setting, value exploration, time management, and increased computer and academic skills.  The workplace training component can include:  workplace communication, workplace math, employability skills, and blueprint reading.  CASAS appraisal determines reading and math levels so instruction can be tailored to meet individual needs.  This is a great boot camp approach for those with the greatest need to improve their employability skills.  People who complete the program will leave the program with a professional cover letter and resume, a Kansas WORKReady! Certificate, opportunity to complete their GED/high school diploma, and follow up services to assist with their transition into the workforce.

For more information visit:  or


Kansas City Kansas Community College FLEET Program

The FLEET (financial literacy, employability skills and entrepreneurship training) program is a flexible skills training program which is developed in both credit and noncredit formats.  Noncredit versions of the program include workshops and extracurricular training opportunities for KCKCC students and community members at little or no charge. An Essential Career Skills course offered for credit through KCKCC is required in all Business degrees and certificates. FLEET programming is offered through the DOL, TAACCCT grant, called T4E (Training for Employment) at KCKCC’s new Technical Center, to help provide a comprehensive support system that facilitate a person’s seamless transition to employment. The FLEET program is based upon research published by Edmiston, Gillett-Fisher and McGarth’s in 2009 entitled “Weighing the Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace.” FLEET is also based on Mid America Regional Council’s research on the soft skills areas of highest value as indicated by regional companies. The FLEET program moves forward on the premise that financial training and soft skills training leads to improved work outcomes.

For more information contact Marvin Hunt at KCKCC at (913) 288-7276 or


Salina Area Technical College (SATC) PSY 100

This soft skills course includes skills needed to remove barriers between people and a better career.  The course explores socio-economic class communication, financial literacy, economic stability, and SMART goal setting.  Highlighted in a process called “How Students Find their HOME@SATC (HOME=helping, outreach, mentor & educate), the participants start with the objectives of getting started, gaining education, and getting a better job.  Participants start by meeting with SATC staff for an individual interview and goal setting.  PSY 100 is 6 weeks in length.   However, participants also meet with SATC’s Outreach Coordinator once a week for up to a year and are matched with an expertise or Resource Mentor who they meet with at least three times over their year of participation.  Participants set goals and utilize their resource mentor to help them remove the barriers between them, furthering their education, or obtaining living wage employment.

For more information contact:  Lara Duran at Salina Area Technical College– 785-309-3169 or visit


Wichita Area Technical College – Global Professional Standards

The Global Professional Standards (GPS) course provides an overview of human relations and professional development in today’s rapidly changing world, and helps prepare students for living and working in a complex society. The 2 credit hour course is interwoven into all of the technical programs.  Specific topics of the course include the skills needed to obtain and retain a job, including the 10 characteristics of global professional standards – Attendance; Character; Teamwork; Appearance; Attitude; Productivity; Time Management; Communication; Cooperation; and, Respect.  During this course, students create a resume and participate in a mock job interview.  Online interactive content has been developed for the course and it is offered as a traditional or online course.

For more information, contact Sheree Utash at (316) 677-9536 or

Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST)

BEST will be available in about six months (early 2015) through the KANSASWORKS Workforce Centers administered by Southeast KANSASWORKS.  This soft skills program will include eight workshop modules focused on the essential skills needed to be successful in the workplace.  The modules include:  Getting a Job; Dependability; Appearance, Health and Wellness; Power of a Positive Attitude; Keeping Your Job; Working with the Public/Customer Service; Effective Communication; and Resolving Conflict.

For more information contact:  Leanne Kehres, Executive Director of Southeast KANSASWORKS at      620-366-0046.

Bridges out of Poverty Training      

Bridges out of Poverty Training  is a non-traditional soft skills program that helps supervisors, business owners, or fellow employees understand the culture of poverty and employee behaviors.  This workshop helps participants develop a better understanding of the driving forces behind the three socio-economic classes and the hidden rules of poverty, middle class, and wealth.  Objectives include:

  • Explore mental models of economic poverty, middle class and wealth and the driving forces of each class.  This can be used to motivate employees and build relationships.
  • Learn the hidden rules of each class in order to better understand and communicate with each other.
  • Explain how economic realities affect patterns of living and how this impacts what an employee brings with them to the job.
  • Understand the causes of poverty in order to build resources for employees.  Identify the eight resources a customer or employee needs to succeed.
  • Identify the eight resources a customer or employee needs to succeed.

Learn about how Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids, Michigan implemented Bridges out of Poverty in its workplace at:

For more information contact:

Circles Out of Poverty

Circles engages entire communities in owning the solution to poverty by:

  • Mobilizing families to achieve economic stability through the long-term and consistent support of peers and volunteers from the community;
  • Developing the leadership of people moving out of poverty to inform community-wide solutions to addressing poverty; and
  • Addressing the community and program barriers faced by families trying to move out of poverty.

A key poverty reduction and workforce re-engagement strategy for Project 17, the program involves a 12 week curriculum (meeting weekly) that helps a person in poverty identify their goals and the barriers to achieving those goals and then developing a plan to help them change their situation and move out of poverty.  Circles then matches the participant in poverty with someone from the middle class or above in a mentoring relationship in order to begin building a support network and social capital.  Circles programs in the Project 17 region currently include:  Iola- Allen County, Pittsburg- Crawford County, Ottawa- Franklin County, and Chanute- Neosho County.

For more information about Circles of Allen County call Thrive Allen County at 620-363-2757
for information about Circles in Crawford, Franklin, and Neosho Counties email

Community Action Programs

These programs focus on helping people in poverty obtain the resources they need to become employed:


East Central-KS CAP (ECKAN) ECKAN is a community action agency providing a wide range of services to low income persons and serves approximately 3200 individuals.  ECKAN serves Anderson, Coffey, Franklin and Miami Counties in the Project 17 region.   Services ECKAN provides include:  community food and nutrition; FEMA assistance; Head Start Program; Housing Choice Voucher Program; Housing Counseling and Rentals; providing Outreach and Referrals for services; serves as a Community Volunteer Center; and operates a Weatherization Program.  ECKAN also funds a Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program through its Housing Choice Voucher Program.  The FSS Program participants develop and follow a personalized plan that is designed to assist the family in achieving goals that they have set for themselves.  To help achieve these goals, ECKAN sets up an individual case management program that may include one or all of the following items:  education, personal finance (budgeting), parental counseling, housing, health needs, training programs, employment training, etc.

For more information about the resources available at ECKAN visit:


SE-KS CAP (SEK-CAP)  SEK-CAP is a non-profit community action agency, dedicated to eliminating the causes of poverty in Southeast Kansas and serves approximately 1600 individuals in Allen, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Crawford, Elk, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson Counties in the Project 17 region.  SEK-CAP’s services address the following specific community needs:  housing, utilities, transportation, employment, medical care, childcare, education, nutrition, and community resource awareness.  SEK-CAP is skilled in Life Skills Development through education related to life skills such as financial management and budgeting, goal-setting, problem solving and how to improve inter-personal relationships.

For more information about SEK-Cap visit:


Mid-Kansas CAP  The Mid-Kansas Community Action Program, Inc. is a community-based, non-profit organization that helps people move out of poverty.  Agency-wide, the organization serves about 200 families per year with ten to fifteen of those currently in Greenwood County.  The organization:

  • Provides programs and services focused on expanding community housing options, education, employment and economic mobility, family development and support services;
  • Actively engages community members, businesses and social service organizations in anti-poverty collaborations; and
  • Continuously improves the accountability and capacity of the organization to pursue its mission of “Helping People, Changing Lives” Mid-Kansas CAP will work with individuals in either a group or an individual setting to:  increase job search results; create and edit a professional resume; improve interview techniques; and make a new job last.

For more information about Mid-Kansas CAP visit:

Character First

Character First from Strata Leadership is an ongoing training program being utilized by Kansas Aviation in Independence, Kansas.  Members of the Project 17 Soft Skills Team met with Toby Lavine, Kansas Aviation’s CEO, to learn first-hand the tremendous impact this program, built around 49 character traits, has on the organization.  The training received cuts right at the very issues employers are expressing concern about with regard to soft skills.  In this instance, the program has created a high performing organization with low employee turnover.  Kansas Aviation has a video about Character First on its website at and Strata Leadership describes what it offers as follows:

The Character Core program is designed for organizations that want to build a culture of character and competence from top to bottom.  Members receive a variety of resources every month that focus on a different “core strength”—including specific character qualities and leadership traits such as vision, responsibility, communication, trust, honesty, and perseverance.

Monthly Benefits:

  • Character Core DVD (1 per location); Character Core Magazine (1 for each employee); Character Core E-mail (available for all employees) with e-magazine and introduction video; Character Core Poster (1 per 25 employees); Core Insights E-mail (for leaders) with leadership tips, videos, and instructional PowerPoint®; and Meeting Planner, Recognition Worksheet, and Certificates (digital download)

 Additional Benefits:

  • Framed Member Certificate plus member logos for company websites and literature
  • Permission to reprint up to 300 words per month in company newsletters, etc. (with proper citation)

 How to Begin:

  • Use the Character Core Starter Kit to train your management team on how to build a culture of character and competence. (Available for purchase online.)
  • Call Strata Leadership at 877.357.0001 to enroll your organization. Please provide the total number of locations and employees.
  • Membership cost is $4 per employee per month. Ask us about bundling your membership with other services such as training, coaching, or assessments.

For more information about Character First and its benefits visit:

Workforce Aligned with Industry Demand (Workforce AID)

The Kansas Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Kansas Board of Regents, is implementing a pilot project to align workforce training and education with industry opportunities and demands. Workforce AID supports Governor Brownback’s strategic plan for economic development, keeping Kansas businesses competitive and promoting a more robust economy.

Within the Project 17 region, Commerce has partnered with Coffeyville Community College to provide a 6-week course called Fast Industry Ready Skills Training (CCC-FIRST).  The curriculum for the CCC-FIRST program was developed under the guidance of representatives from local industry.  Successful candidates of the CCC-FIRST program will learn soft skills (7 Habits of Highly Effective People); basic computer, English and math skills; and basic manufacturing skills through classroom lecture, field trips and hands-on activities.  Students will receive their National Institute of Manufacturing Skills (NIMS) Level 1 and OSHA 10 certifications upon successful completion of the training.  Regular, on-time attendance is mandatory.

In addition, Coffeyville Community College has partnered to provide a 6-week training program called WELD (Work-ready Engaged Leaders in Demand). Utilizing curriculum developed under the guidance of representatives from local industry, successful candidates of the WELD program learn soft skills (7 habits of Highly Effective People); basic computer, English and math skills; and basic welding skills through classroom lecture, field trips and hands-on activities.  Students receive their American Welders Society (AWS) – Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) Certification and their AWS-Fluxed Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) Certification and OSHA 10 certifications upon successful completion of the training.

Poor attendance in either program negatively impacts successful completion.  Pre-assessment tests and registration with KANSASWORKS is required before enrollment.

For more information, contact Yvonne Hull at Coffeyville Community College at 620-252-7550 or

Neosho County Community College (NCCC) has partnered to provide an 8-week Workforce AID program as a cooperative effort with local industry and the Kansas Department of Commerce to train welders. Workforce AID training projects align workforce shortfalls with industry demand. Students who qualify through KANSASWORKS will receive a scholarship from the Department of Commerce to complete the program.

NCCC’s 8-week training includes welding safety, welding blueprint reading, and gas metal arc welding (MIG). Participants will learn communication and teamwork skills, adaptability, and employability skills; basic safety, measurements, blueprint reading; and MIG welding. Training will consist of classroom lecture, significant welding shop experience, field trips and hands-on activities. At course conclusion, participants will test for a D1.1 welding certification and OSHA 10 certification.

Participants will:  receive hands-on training for a good job that pays up to $16 per hour plus benefits; be prepared in just 8 weeks to step into entry-level jobs; earn 7 college credits toward completion of a Welding program Level I certificate and/or an Associate of Applied Science degree; obtain an opportunity to job shadow and learn what the welding manufacturing environment is really like; and meet the hiring managers of partner companies and see first-hand how to prepare for success at these companies.  Regular, on-time attendance is mandatory.  Pre-assessment tests and registration with KANSASWORKS is required before enrollment.

For more information contact Amy Smith at Neosho County Community College (620) 431-2820 ext. 205 or