WHAT WE DO

 

Facilitating life stabilizing skills for gainful employment, job retention, & family cohesion. 

Right now, the U.S. spends $80 billion on incarceration annually and over 7 million children are affected by a parent or caregiver who is incarcerated.  In Kansas, one out of every three adults who is incarcerated ends up back in the system within 3 years.  In 2018 the Governor's office recommended 387.7 Million dollars in funding for Kansas Department of Corrections.  Yet only 2% of the Corrections Budget is spent on Recidivism Reduction Programs.  

 

Cultivate Inc. realizes that there is no way we can adequately fund state agencies to provide needed recidivism reduction programing.  Cultivate Inc. is a part of the solution!  We believe the best way to do so is to focus on the individuals and families who are affected.  If they have the life skills, trade skills and motivation to contribute to society then recidivism will decrease.  Logistically, this helps decrease money spent on incarceration, but more importantly it gives humanity back to people who can begin to believe in themselves. 

 

Cultivate Inc. focuses on developing and protecting human dignity and we are passionate about providing for our community.  In partnership with county and state agencies, we help facilitate life stabilizing skills for gainful employment, job retention and family cohesion.  We currently have two programs to work directly with clients from the Adult Residential Center in the Johnson County Correctional Facility. 

Strengthening Families Program began in 2012 and is a program to introduce at risk families into supportive, pro-social community relationships.  SFP is nationally and internationally recognized and due to evidence-based training, parenting skills and family relationships are improved and problem behaviors such as delinquency or alcohol and drug abuse in children are reduced. 

HOW IT WORKS// Trained facilitators address these issues by providing three core skills; connecting, communicating and boundary setting.  Upon completion of SFP families are better equipped to deal with challenges that arise and the likelihood of engaging in future antisocial behavior is reduced as support systems flourish.

STATISTICS// Since September 2012 Cultivate has collaborated to host two semesters annually of the Strengthening Families Program.  To date over 100 families have been served.  We have provided these at risk families with family stabilizing skills.  After completion of the program, 63% of children and 88% of parents said that they now talk about family issues and problems or hold family meetings.  This program has been shown to effectively reduce the instances of substance abuse in the home and reduce child misbehavior.  Establishing the framework to get issues on the table is a critical step in improving relationships and family functioning.  By improving relationships, we seek to assist families.  In assisting families, we strive to cultivate our community.

College of Trades Program began in 2013 as a welding training program in partnership with Wright Welding LLC.  Currently we offer incarcerated adults the opportunity to gain technical skills and certificates for in-demand trades while also learning and applying life skills for integration into work and everyday life environments.

 

HOW IT WORKS//Each client that enters into the program first chooses one of the skilled trade areas to apply to.  After making application the client is interviewed and if accepted will enter into a 12 week study program.  In this program each client will receive 45 hours of Life and Professional Skills development, instruction in an entry level certification in a specialized trade, receive a mentor through Greater Kansas City Crime Commission Mentoring 2 Excel program and have an opportunity to apply for scholarships to Johnson County Community College.  

In 2018 through a grant and new community engagement College of Trades launched the College of Arts.  The College of Arts is designed to provide life and professional skills to adults who are currently in Johnson County's Therapeutic Community or "TC".  TC is a 6 month residential drug treatment program and clients in this program are not able to release from the program for work.  There was a need for these clients to receive life and professional skills so Cultivate Inc. and a host of community partners collaborated to provide Creative Writing, Creative Photography and Improv.  

 

STATISTICS// To date the College of Trades is seeing great success.  Currently we have a 68% completion rate.  75% of those completing the program are employed.  80% of those employed in the career field they trained for 6 months after completing the College of Trades.  90 Days out from the program 0% of our program graduates have received new charges for crime.  Yes, 0%!

Discovery for Teens was piloted in 2018.  Discovery works with Johnson County youth who have criminal charges.  These youth have all had multiple contacts with the court system and are at risk of  becoming adult offenders if they do not change their life patterns.   Many of these youth are working to compete their GED or attending an alternative school to complete their high school diploma.  Discovery works with these youth to help them discover their personal work interests, set goals for what they want in life and name the values that will help them attain these goals.  Each semester students learn about careers that can be accessed through certification in a skilled trade.  The program ends with a tour of a local community college where students can learn about certification programs for in-demand skilled trades.  

HOW IT WORKS// Students are referred to the program by their Intensive Supervision Officer or Court Services Officer.  The program lasts 5 weeks and students complete 10 hours of in class program time.  In the class they learn their work interests using the O*NET.  O*NET stands for  Occupational Information Network and is run by the US Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration.  After taking the O*NET students are able to access the Department of Labor database to research careers and the training necessary to find entry level work in those careers.  Students then spend time identifying their values and goals and how they will drive their decisions toward a stable career field.  Finally students are introduced to a local community college, take a tour and can explore training opportunities through these institutions.  In Kansas each student can apply for a grant through the Kansas Department of Corrections which they can use to pay for some of their coursework.  

STATISTICS// The pilot program saw 5 students referred,  4 students completed and 2 engaged in educational opportunities with Johnson County Community College.  

 
 
WHO WE ARE
 

A group of passionate people from all different backgrounds and walks of life who want to spark change.

We saw a need and are in the midst of brainstorming, collaborating and taking action to fulfill that need. Meet our team. 

Lee Jost

Executive Director and Instructor

In early elementary school I remember a teacher, Octa Macker, who saw potential in a chubby ruddy kid who never felt like he fit in.  She affirmed my potential at every turn.  I think of her affirming words often and realize that I trace much of my heart for the "underdog" to those formational moments in my own childhood.   Today I continue to peruse the underdog and have found places to serve my community through civic engagement and starting Cultivate Inc. a 501c3 dedicated to providing skills and networks for interpersonal and professional development by utilizing evidence based practices and industry professionals for at risk individuals and families.

 

My most important roles are as a husband and father to three strong daughters and a granddaughter.  8 years ago a group of faithful folks started Christ the Servant Church, where I continue to serve as pastor.  Two years ago, I started Cultivate Inc.  Cultivate Inc. engages scores of volunteers who are willing to speak affirmation into individuals who struggle to see hope for themselves.  Today Cultivate Inc. offers real hope for families through Strengthening Families, a program providing connection, communication skills and help with setting limits for children.  Cultivate Inc. is providing opportunities to grow for adults who are under the care of Johnson County Corrections through Professional (Life) Skills, Certificate Training and partnering with Mentor 2 Excel to provide mentors.  Cultivate Inc. is seeking solutions to the looming housing crisis in Johnson County.  Our work has brought together County partners, local nonprofits, businesses and community members to empower positive life change. 

 

Other roles include: County Commissioners representative on the Johnson County Drug and Alcoholism Council, served as Chair of the Council for 2 years.  I have been asked to serve on the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Committee and assisted in establishing the Johnson County Evening Reporting Center the after school program for at risk youth.   Currently I chair of the Employment Sub Committee for Johnson County Continuum of Care on Homelessness.  I also serve as the  Board of County Commissioners Faith Community representative on the Criminal Justice Advisory Council.  I also serve on the board for Johnson County's United Community Services.

Charlene Whitney

Board Member

Charlene is a native of Kansas City whose passion for providing services to the youth and young families of Johnson County stems from a lifelong career as a Court Services Officer.  A University of Kansas graduate in education, she has dedicated her life to helping those in the community learn about and obtain services through various organizations. Charlene also serves on the Drug and Alcoholism Council, a program of United Community Services of Johnson County. ​

Linda Kozacek

Board Member and Instructor

Linda Kozacek is a former transition counselor and ESOL instructor for Johnson County Adult Education at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University in English and ESL certification from Newman University in Wichita. She is an active volunteer in the Kansas City area, having focused her passions on literacy, poverty alleviation, economic re-development, and issues involving care at all levels for children and families.  “I love to hear people’s stories” –is the description Linda uses for her passion to get to know people and help them achieve their academic and personal goals for success, no matter what their story.

Jerry Rose

Board Member and Instructor

Jerry Rose is a retired Agent for the FBI whose first office of assignment in the Bureau was Kansas City.  Upon retirement, he and his wife, Jan, a Kansas City native, returned to the area to take care of family and served the community.  A member of Christ Community Church (Leawood Campus), Jerry is an instructor in the professional development course offered by Cultivate, Inc., to those individuals transitioning out of the Kansas criminal justice system.  Jerry also serves as a mentor to several men, in the Kansas City metropolitan area, who want to empower themselves and contribute to family and community."

Erin Moeder

Chair of the Board

Erin Moeder is the Volunteers & Programs Coordinator, Johnson County Department of Corrections.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with Minor in Criminal Justice, Masters Degree of Social Work – both from Washburn University.  She’s worked for JCDOC for 12 years. Erin loves serving this population because these clients are our neighbors and they live in our community.  Their kids go to school with our kids, they shop at the same stores and attend the same churches.  The system can be very hard to get out of because this is the life many of our clients are accustomed to and they don’t have the resources or the know how to do something different.  But when a client truly wants to change and is ready for a different life, it makes the work we do worth it.  There is nothing better than seeing a client get out of the system and then come back as a volunteer to help out their fellow neighbor.

Danielle Hamilton Slate

Board Member

Danielle Hamilton Slate is a 2008 graduate of Kansas State University and a 2015 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law. After law school, Danielle spent two years serving as a research attorney at the Kansas Court of Appeals before going to work as a public defender in Johnson County, Kansas. Danielle’s work at the public defender’s office provides her with unique insight into the struggles faced by Cultivate’s clients and her legal training makes her an asset to the board. Danielle is passionate about helping individuals charged with and convicted of crimes mitigate the impact of their encounters with the criminal justice system on their futures and believes that Cultivate plays an important role in this—transforming the negative experience of conviction and placement at the Adult Residential Center into an opportunity for life-changing community, training, and job placement.

Johnny Waller

Board Member

Johnny Waller Jr. is a recent graduate of Rockhurst University’s Helzberg School of Management where he received his Masters in Management with a concentration in organizational leadership and development. He also earned his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Rockhurst University on academic scholarship and an Associate degree from Johnson County Community College in Business Administration where he spent 5 consecutive semesters on the dean’s list and graduated with civic honors.  He owned and operated a small janitorial company in Kansas City, Imagaclean Services, for seven years until his oldest son tragically passed away from cancer. He was also the Vice President of a local non-profit organization that helped ex-offenders with life, employment and spiritual skills in order to prepare them for their new life ahead. Additionally, He has also attended many training programs including UMKC’s mini-law school, M.A.R.C’s Community Leadership training and Addictions Academy hosted by Lincoln University to name a few. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards including Tom Joyner’s Real Father’s-Real Men, an award he is most proud of.

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OUR PARTNERS

Connecting our students to community opportunities. 

Wright Welding (read more here and here)

Johnson County Community College foundation

Johnson County Corrections

The Johnson Count Library

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