15 Feb, 2022, 09:00 ET
BOSTON, Feb. 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Jobs for the Future (JFF) is announcing 22 recipients of Ascendium Education Group’s Ready for Pell initiative. Ready for Pell is designed to help institutions that provide postsecondary education in prisons navigate the upcoming changes to the Pell Grant program for student financial assistance, giving learners who are incarcerated new opportunities for educational attainment and increased economic mobility.
Two state systems and 20 colleges in 16 states will receive up to $120,000 in funding to expand postsecondary education in prison (PEP) programs in advance of the restoration of Pell Grant eligibility in 2023. Since 1994, people who are incarcerated have been prohibited from receiving Pell Grants, resulting in a decrease in PEP programs and negatively impacting reentry outcomes.
With eligibility returning in 2023, the Ready for Pell initiative will help institutions enhance program quality and ensure eligible students are able to access and maximize the use of Pell funds as they pursue postsecondary education in prison and beyond.
“The outcomes from this initiative have the potential to scale and transform postsecondary education for learners who are incarcerated, benefiting those individuals, their future employers, and the public at large,” says Lucretia Murphy, associate vice president at JFF. “JFF is so excited to work with these grantees as part of a movement for quality and equity in postsecondary education programs.”
The Ready for Pell cohort is representative of PEP programs across the country. It includes emerging and established programs offering career and technical education, associate’s and baccalaureate pathways in facilities housing men and women. JFF and Ascendium will work with RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, as a third-party evaluator to document the experiences of the grantees and their prison partners with implementation and impact.
“Our evaluation—from beginning to end—will be guided by people who have been directly impacted by incarceration,” said Michelle Tolbert, senior education researcher at RTI and the evaluation lead.
According to the Vera Institute for Justice’s 2019 report, Investing in Futures, nearly 500,000 currently incarcerated people would be eligible for Pell Grants. Research shows that people who participate in college-in-prison programs are far more likely to find stable, family-supporting employment after their release and far less likely to return to prison.
“We typically support only systems-level efforts, but we thought it was tremendously important to flex just slightly outside the bounds of our grantmaking strategy to meet this moment,” said Rebecca Villarreal, Ascendium’s director of education philanthropy. “We really wanted to expand the number of programs, colleges, universities, and states preparing for the complexity of administering Pell in a carceral setting and providing access to high-quality educational pathways.”
The following organizations have been selected as part of the Ready for Pell inaugural cohort:
- Arkansas Community College System
- Through the Ready for Pell initiative, the Arkansas Community College System will support and coordinate at least 11 two-year and four-year colleges, including the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas Monticello to expand capacity to provide programming at 20 correctional facilities once Pell is expanded and over the coming years create a formal consortium to continually support PEP program development, quality, and continuous improvement, and support reentry efforts beyond PEP programs.
- Research Foundation for SUNY (System) – New York
- The Research Foundation for The State University of New York (RF), the largest comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the country, provides State University of New York (SUNY) essential supports to enable SUNY faculty to support postsecondary programming in prison. Through this initiative, the RF will be providing services for seven higher institutions, including three SUNY campuses, that received funding for their PEP program, planning, expanding, and improving college-in-prison programs within the SUNY system.
- Amarillo College – Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- Amarillo College offers workforce education programs for male and female facilities with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, Amarillo College will begin offering an Intermediate Diesel Certificate (DEMR.CERT) to be completed in eleven months and offers a pathway to an associate of applied science in Diesel Transportation Technology.
- Arkansas Northeastern College – Northeast Arkansas Community Corrections Center, and Arkansas Department of Corrections, Mississippi County Work Release Center
- Arkansas Northeastern College’s program currently offers a Certificate of Proficiency in Welding and a Certificate of Proficiency in Construction. The Ready for Pell expansion will enable ANC to add additional credentials and the associate of arts in General Studies a versatile degree with courses for easy transfer to any community college or four-year college for a wide variety of baccalaureate degrees at correctional facilities serving men and women.
- Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology – Massachusetts State Prison
- Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, a Minority Serving Institution (MSI), serves men in the School of Reentry at the Boston Pre-Release Center, providing a “whole student” approach, including personal development, and workforce training classes, and technical credential programs that include Automotive Technology (associate’s degree), HVAC&R (Certificate), Practical Electricity (Certificate), and Opticianry (associate’s degree). As part of the Ready for Pell initiative, BFIT will expand the offerings of credential programs to multiple corrections facilities.
- California State University, San Bernardino – California State Prison
- California State University at San Bernadino (CSUSB) has been involved in two different prison education initiatives since 1998, including a partnership with the Prison Education Project and a partnership with Pitzer College. Through Ready for Pell, CSUSB will partner with Pitzer College to develop a unique, multi-institutional partnership to expand postsecondary opportunity in facilities and opportunities for the students to continue their education after release.
- College Unbound – Rhode Island State & Federal Prison
- College Unbound’s Prison Education Program (PEP), launched in 2015 with the Rhode Island Department of Correction (RIDOC), to pilot an associate’s to bachelor’s degree program for men and women in Rhode Island’s state and federal prison.
- Through the Ready for Pell initiative, CU will deepen financial aid support and curriculum expansion, and expand the existing program to a full bachelor of arts program in Organizational Leadership and Change.
- Des Moines Area Community College – Iowa Department of Corrections
- Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) has provided vocational, adult education, and associates of art program in liberal arts to the identified facilities for over 20 years. As part of the Ready for Pell initiative, DMACC will deepen students' financial and academic advising and expand its career pathway and degree programs. DMACC is the only institution of higher education that serves the state facilities housing women with face-to-face programming. This initiative will also support expansion of programming at the women’s facilities. Partners include Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW): Minimum Live Out (at ICIW), Newton Correctional Facility (NCF), Correctional Release Center (CRC) at NCF: State Prison, Polk County Jail (PCJ): Community based corrections, plus houses a federal population
- Herkimer County Community College (SUNY) – New York State Prison
- Herkimer County Community College (HCCC), a member of the Hamilton-Herkimer College in Prison, a consortium, currently offers a Liberal Arts & Sciences: General Studies associate of arts degree for men incarcerated in the Mohawk Correctional and Mid State Correctional Facilities.
- Through the Ready for Pell initiative, HCCC plans to expand programming to include Small Business Management associate of applied science and Psychology associate of arts degrees. Upon release, students participating in these programs can transition to Herkimer’s main campus or transfer seamlessly to any of the State University of New York (SUNY) campuses.
- Hope-Western Prison Education Program – Michigan Department of Corrections
- The Hope-Western Prison Education Program (HWPEP) is a partnership between Hope College (Hope), Western Theological Seminary (WTS), and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). HWPEP students take the same general education courses as traditional Hope students. In addition, they pursue a major in Faith, Leadership, and Service. Through the Ready for Pell grant, HWPEP will build capacity for extending and translating financial aid, academic, and career counseling services for the men at the Muskegon Correctional Facility and develop training programs for professionals in these offices to normalize services to students and provide training for instructional staff to deliver a trauma-informed education to its students.
- Minneapolis Community & Technical College – Minnesota Department of Corrections
- In partnership with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Minneapolis College Foundation, Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC) offers their 60-credit associate of arts degree to men at the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility. The associate of arts includes 40 credits of general education transfer curriculum, provides a transferable pathway to a 4-year degree, and offers desirable skills and learning for various career and technical jobs. As part of the Ready for Pell initiative, the MCTC will refine systemic processes as well as expand student services and partner with transition houses for students to continue college education upon release.
- Moraine Park Technical College – Wisconsin Department of Corrections
- Moraine Park (MPTC) has been an educational partner with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) for 48 years providing technical certificate and diploma options for trades and automotive maintenance industries for men and women at state prison and local and county facilities. As part of the Ready for Pell initiative, MPTC will expand its offerings across state prisons, local and county jails to include additional credit-bearing programs that prepare students for employment in high-demand sectors or occupations.
- Northeast Mississippi Community College – Mississippi Department of Corrections
- Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC) began offering college courses to men in Alcorn County Correctional Facility (ACCF) in fall 2017 that apply toward a degree program or courses that have a national certification tied to the individual course, such as Employment Readiness, Electrical Construction Manufacturing, and Manufacturing Skills Basics. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, NEMCC will expand its program and wraparound supports for students, including assistance with applications for college and FAFSA, academic advising, encouragement during coursework, career planning, and assistance with finding job opportunities post-release.
- Penn State University – Pennsylvania Correctional Facilities
- The Restorative Justice Initiative’s Prison Education Program at Penn State (“RJI”) has offered non-credit, college-level courses to over 500 incarcerated men at four state facilities and one county. Penn State is well-positioned, given its size, scope, and reach—24 campuses across the state and nearly every campus proximate to at least one correctional facility—to make a profound and measurable impact on the Commonwealth’s carceral system. Through the Ready for Pell Grant, RJI will expand its program and pursue pathways for credentialization.
- Portland State University – Oregon Department of Corrections
- Portland State University’s Higher Education in Prison Program is the first and only college degree pathway for incarcerated women in Oregon, offering courses that lead to a Liberal Studies degree pathway. As part of the Ready for Pell initiative, PSU-HEP plans to increase capacity by retaining their Reduced Differential Tuition model for those incarcerated learners who may not be Pell eligible, to continue to elevate equitable access, admit all students as full degree-seeking students, as well as training and supporting staff to assist students with financial aid, admissions and advising. Partners include Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.
- San Antonio College – Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- San Antonio College (SAC) began formation of the Collaborative College Course Program, a joint effort between the Rehabilitation Programs Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (RPD - TDCJ), San Antonio College (SAC), and The Philosophy and Literature Circle (PHILLIT) at the University of Texas at San Antonio, to develop postsecondary education in prison (PEP) for men in Texas’ state prison. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, SAC will expand student supports, including academic advising, tutoring, and assistance during reentry to include holistic, basic needs support services (assistance with rent, food, transportation, medical care, counseling).
- Sinclair Community College – Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections
- Sinclair’s Advanced Job Training (AJT) program has provided postsecondary education and related programming to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC). They also provide pre- and post-release academic and career counseling services that mirror services provided to other students. As part of the Ready for Pell initiative, AJT plans to build enrollment and expand the program to include associate’s of applied science degrees that lead to bachelor’s degrees, associate’s of applied arts, and associate’s of technical study degrees.
- South Louisiana Community College – Louisiana Department of Corrections
- SLCC partners with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) to offer the opportunity to earn college credit resulting in a Technical Diploma in Welding Technology to men in the Louisiana Department of Corrections. The program has a 98% completion rate with a 97% job placement rate upon release and reentry into the community. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, SLCC plans to expand its programs to include Automotive Technology and Culinary Arts. As LPSO plans to be adding a female population, SLCC is seeking to include their rollout of the Culinary Arts Program to this new female population. Partners include Raymond Laborde Corrections Center.
- Tufts University – Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord
- The Tufts University Prison Initiative of the Tisch College of Civic Life (TUPIT) houses an associate’s and bachelor’s degree-granting PEP program for men and a holistic pathway to degree completion post-incarceration. TUPIT has developed and sustained highly productive partnerships across the Massachusetts Department of Correction (MADOC), Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), and Tufts University. Students can work toward an associate of arts or bachelor of arts degree from Tufts’ School of Arts & Sciences. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, TUPIT will build capacity to support financial aid and expand programming.
- Tulane University – Louisiana Department of Corrections
- In partnership with Operation Restoration (OR), the College in Prison Program (CPP) offers for-credit classes required to complete a bachelor of arts in social science for approximately 40 women in the College in Prison Program at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW). Tulane University’s School of Professional Advancement (SoPA) also assists students as they continue classes either on campus or remotely, fulfill reentry needs and foster unique career pathway opportunities. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, SoPA will support in-depth FAFSA training and expand student services such as advising, tutoring, career guidance, library resources, and more.
- University of Buffalo (SUNY) – New York Department of Corrections
- The University of Buffalo is the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York (SUNY) system; the emergent PEP program and will be building on an existing, evidence-based model of making education accessible to vulnerable populations. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, SUNY will begin offering college prep courses as well as credit-bearing courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in sociology to men at New York’s state prison. Partners include Wende Correctional Facility.
- University of New Haven – Connecticut Department of Corrections
- The University of New Haven (UNH) partnered with the Yale Prison Education Initiative (YPEI) at Dwight Hall to establish a degree-granting program (“The Program”) for incarcerated men and women in Connecticut. Through the Ready for Pell initiative, the partnership between Yale and UNH will expand the program to allow enrolled students to matriculate in a UNH associate’s in General Studies, with all Yale credits seamlessly transferred. Partners include: CT Department of Corrections / MacDougall Correctional Institution (Suffield, CT); Pending Additional: Federal Correctional Institution (FCI), Danbury (Danbury, CT)
JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For nearly 40 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. www.jff.org
Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates, and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color, and veterans. Ascendium's work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit https://www.ascendiumphilanthropy.org.
CONTACT: Daniel Obregon, [email protected]
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