Prairie Gold Homes is based in Lincoln and McCook and is run by paid staff, trainers and construction supervisors with support of a volunteer Board of Directors. The organization partners with a wide variety of public and private organizations to provide a nationally-certified, comprehensive educational and job training program in the building construction trades. Prairie Gold designs and builds on-site (stick-built) homes/duplexes as well as quality modular homes that meet local needs. Facilitating the successful reentry of program graduates, former inmates in the state's correctional facilities, back into society upon release is our focus.
Income to support the organization’s work is provided through the sale of homes, foundation and other grants, and private donations. Thanks to the following organizations for their support:
Tim Kenny, Executive Director of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA), learned of a program within the South Dakota prison system that used inmate labor to build basic housing. He formed a team of collaborative organizations to launch the concept in Nebraska with the mission of increasing the state’s affordable housing supply. The pilot program, organized as Bar None Housing, LLC (BNH), was born in 2002 with the help of leadership from the Homebuilders Association of Lincoln. Additional collaborators included the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Fannie Mae Foundation, Nebraska Housing Resource, Inc., the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Cornhusker State Industries, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, and private modular home producer Vantage Pointe Homes.
This team operated collaboratively, producing 52 modular housing units that were sited in 18 communities throughout central and eastern Nebraska. In 2009, after completing a situational and business analysis, the collaborators decided that while elements of the program were very successful, the market for the housing units needed to change, and the organization’s mission should be revisited. Because the most significant impact of the program was the very low re-incarceration rate among inmate participants—3 percent vs. 21 percent for non-program inmates—a focus on strengthening the vocational training aspect of the program and helping even more graduates succeed outside the correctional system had broad appeal.
In early 2009, a collaborative effort co-facilitated by BNH and NIFA staff began to identify new leadership/board members and to incorporate Prairie Gold Homes as a Nebraska nonprofit corporation. NIFA’s legal counsel, Kutak Rock, helped prepare and file the IRS application for 501(c)(3) status. The Board refined the organization’s mission, formulated a basic strategic plan, and sought initial start-up grant funds to develop new marketing materials and grow board capacity.
Throughout the year, a volunteer curriculum committee comprised of representatives from the Board, the local educational community and the building industry worked with Nebraska Department of Correctional Services staff to develop a comprehensive program that would prepare inmate participants for a successful career in the construction industry upon their release.
In December 2009, Prairie Gold Homes was awarded a Compassion Capital Fund grant through Region V Systems. A marketing firm was retained to develop materials to use for participant recruitment within the correctional system, as well as for community outreach to grow public support for the program. Videos, print materials and a Web site were all developed through the grant. Additionally, the Board and staff received training and technical assistance to grow internal capacities in governance, business and personnel management, and resource development.
Board of Directors
- President - Bill Hunter: Pastor, New Visions Community United Methodist Church
- Vice President - Steve Peregrine: Executive Director, Nebraska Housing Resource
- Secretary - Larry Wayne: former Dep. Director of Programs, Dept. of Corrections
- Treasurer - Gary Hill: International Corrections Consultant
- Ki Raka Atwater: volunteer, ReEnrty Association of Nebr. & Bridges to Hope
- Byron Fischer: former USDA Nebraska Rural Development Housing Chief
- Bob Rentfro: Builder/Owner-Cherry Hill Construction
- DiAnna Schimek: former State Senator
- Greg Shinaut: Black Hills Energy
- Mark Wentz, Executive Director
- Renee Bauer, Resource Development Director
- Nate Rankin, Administrative Assistant