Skip to Main Content

Barbecue Fundraisers Help Inmates Take WNC Classes

Posted: January 25, 2019

Barbecues at Northern Nevada Correctional Center are doing much more than feeding inmates in Carson City.

Piggy-backing off a successful Veterans Integration Program at Warm Springs Correctional Center, Western Nevada College’s Veterans Resource Center is now helping NNCC educate its prisoners through the college.

NNCC Warden Isidro Baca, WNC Foundation Executive Director Niki Gladys, WNC Veterans Pre-Admissions Adviser Richard Vlach and NNCC Associate Warden Lisa Walsh are pictured with an $11,708.01 check that WNC will use for inmates taking classes through the college.

In 2016, WNC’s Veterans Resource Center started fundraising barbecues at Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City to create scholarships for inmates to help pay for classes as they worked toward an Associate of General Studies degree while incarcerated.

The 55-year-old medium custodial facility to the north has used the same method to fund its college program. Twice in the past four months, the NNCC offered its inmates a menu of Costco food, including pizza and chicken, to order from to generate scholarship funding for classes at the prison in 2019. The barbecues raised nearly $12,000 and the money was donated to WNC’s Foundation on Wednesday. Lisa Walsh, the NNCC’s associate warden, runs the popular fundraiser.

As a result, inmates can begin taking mathematics and communications courses during spring semester, and if all goes according to plan, they will begin learning the highly valuable employment skill of welding in the fall. The inmates will be able to work toward an Associate of Science degree in Welding.

“The more knowledge you have, the better decisions you can make,” said a prisoner who is serving as a teacher’s assistant for classes this spring. “Some of the inmates can come out of here with a vocation and come out with their hand up instead of their hand out.”

Another inmate who attended the check presentation ceremony on Wednesday, said he has learned to speak English while incarcerated at NNCC. He said when he returns home to Mexico he intends to continue his education.

“When you have an education, you have the opportunity to be a better person,” he said.

To involve as many inmates as possible out of NNCC’s general population of 1,100, one class scholarship is being extended per inmate.

“If they aren’t doing the right things, they are not going to participate in this program,” said NNCC Warden Isidro Baca. “It behooves the inmates to maintain positive behavior throughout the process.”

Any inmate who is removed from a class also won’t be reimbursed for that class.

So far, there are 95 students taking classes between the two correctional facilities.

“We have a captive audience that wants to be here in the classroom,” Walsh said.

Warm Springs Inmates Excelling in Their WNC Courses

Thus far, the report cards at Warm Springs have been enviable and nearly impeccable. Since 2016, Warm Springs has seen a 100 percent course completion rate by its inmates and there has been only one grade below a B — and that was a C-.

“These guys are exceeding every expectation we thought of,” said WNC Veterans Pre-Admissions Adviser Richard Vlach.

Added Baca, “These guys are doing really well and it shows how much work WNC is doing for the inmates’ success.”

To help expand the program, donations are being accepted.

“The success of the program and the demand for classes has exceeded all expectations,” said WNC Foundation Executive Director Niki Gladys. “As a result, we’re seeking additional donations to help supplement the on-site fundraisers. We’d love to be able to offer more classes to inmates who are seeking to better themselves.”

To donate to the NNCC education fund, contact WNC Foundation at foundation@wnc.edu or 775-445-3240.