ASHLAND, Ohio, Sept. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today marks the beginning of the journey for more than 840 incarcerated students aiming to earn an Associate of Arts or Bachelor's Degree through Ashland University's distance-learning program. Ashland University (AU) is one of 67 colleges and universities selected out of 300 applications to participate in the new Second Chance Pell Grant pilot program, giving inmates the opportunity to earn postsecondary degrees to enhance their chances of success upon release. Through a partnership with JPay's Lantern – a free tablet-driven education program featuring a comprehensive Learning Management System (LMS) – AU professors can deploy coursework and converse with students remotely, allowing inmates to learn at their own pace on their prison-grade JP5 tablets.
Serving one of the largest student populations in the Second Chance Pell Grant pilot program – 840 inmates enrolling today, 1,040 in total – AU will offer over 400 courses between now and the end of 2019, with each incarcerated student required to complete 10 semesters to receive an undergraduate degree. Focusing efforts in Ohio, Louisiana and West Virginia facilities, Ashland and JPay expect to help inmates earn more than 112,300 college credits through the federal government grant.
"We are privileged to continue to offer the hope and promise of education to inmates thanks to this program," said Dr. Carlos Campo, Ashland University President. "Ashland University is grateful for a technology partner like JPay, because we can achieve far more together. We look forward to continued collaboration and innovation that improves outcomes for these students and our communities as well."
Ashland University, which offers the longest operating post-secondary correctional program in the nation, is one of the only distance-based learning program selected for the Second Chance Pell Grants. The University will rely heavily on Lantern's technology to facilitate instruction and allow inmates to interact with their teachers outside of the classroom. Instructors simply log into the LMS to upload, edit and deploy coursework, as well as grade assignments and message with students. The inmates use the JPay kiosk to communicate with professors and sync their JP5 tablets to send and receive coursework, which is completed on their devices.
"We partnered with Ashland University two years ago on a mission to make free inmate education a reality, and today our technology is making it possible for numerous inmates to use their time served to earn a college education – bettering their lives and impact on the community," said Annette Chambers-Smith, Chief Operating Officer of JPay. "All the work we put into Lantern is worth it, now it's up to the inmates to do the work and earn their degrees."
More than 2,500 inmates applied for the 1,040 Pell Grants allocated to AU. Enrolled students with a GED were selected based on set criteria, such as good behavior, self interest, income level, and sentence terms. The Obama administration expanded the Pell Grant program to create the Second Chance Pell Grant pilot for inmates; funds were not reallocated from another education initiative.
Ashland University also offers a re-entry program for students enabling them to complete their degree online for one year after release. This re-entry course is modelled after the principles of The Only Person U Cheat is U (TOPUCU) curriculum. TOPUCU is evidence-based with a 63.4% reduction in criminal thinking, see http://www.topucucorrections.com.
JPay, a Securus Technologies Company, designs, builds and deploys its technology to prisons and jails across the country, establishing correspondence to help educate and rehabilitate offenders. Serving more than 1.9 million offenders and parolees in 34 states, JPay makes the corrections process more convenient for offenders and their loved ones, while modernizing processes and increasing intelligence capabilities for corrections facilities. Products include money transfer services, tablets, email and video communications, education, games, music and more.
About Ashland University
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report's National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.