Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education

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Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education

Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education is a five-year national demonstration effort

that provides selected states with at least $1 million in incentive funding, along with technical

assistance, to create an education and reentry continuum that begins in prison and continues in

the community after release until students achieve a degree or professional certification.

Goals of the initiative

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Increase postsecondary education attainment among the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated

population;

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Increase employability and earnings among formerly incarcerated people as a means of disrupting

the cycle of inter-generational poverty;

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Reduce recidivism and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by

crime and incarceration; and

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Demonstrate that there are cost-effective methods for providing access to postsecondary education

and support services for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals.

States selected to participate

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New Jersey: 11 prisons, 8 colleges and universities

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North Carolina: 8 prisons, 6 community colleges

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Key features

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Funded by five leading foundations – the Ford Foundation, the Sunshine Lady Foundation, the

Open Society Foundations, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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In-prison and post-release postsecondary education provided by accredited local colleges.

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Vocational, developmental, GED, and college readiness courses and academic support services.

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A targeted approach for individuals who are within two years of release through two years

post-release.

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A primary focus on the attainment of a postsecondary education degree or credential.

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Alignment of courses, degrees, and certification programs with local labor market trends.

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Expanded use of technology solutions for in-prison academic services.

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Transfer of college credits from prison to colleges in the community.

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Partnerships with local employers.

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Parole supervision practices that support pursuit of postsecondary educational opportunities.

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Mentoring, tutoring, and reentry support services.

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Comprehensive and coordinated in-prison and community-based case planning.

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Technical assistance, sub-grant funding to states, and support for a learning community across

sites provided by Vera, the national intermediary.

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Third-party evaluation provided by the RAND Corporation with a focus on implementation

(replicability and scale), outcomes (attainment of GEDs, postsecondary degrees, employment),

and impact (recidivism).

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A cost-benefit analysis conducted by Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit.

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Highlights of New Jersey’s Pathways from Prison Model

Higher Education Institutions (8): Drew, Princeton, and Rutgers Universities (New Brunswick and Newark

campuses); The College of New Jersey; Mercer County, Essex County, and Raritan Valley Community Colleges. These institutions form the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP)

Prisons (5 growing to 11): Currently in five facilities, adding two in each subsequent year

Pilot Communities: Essex County (Newark),Camden County (Camden), Mercer County (Trenton), Middlesex

County (New Brunswick), Passaic County (Patterson), and Cumberland County (Bridgeton)

Key Program Components:

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A statewide vision that every person in prison who qualifies for college will have the opportunity to earn college credits toward a degree while incarcerated and will obtain support for post-release continuation, with every prison connected to a community college and four-year college or university.

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In-prison courses to match what students will need to matriculate in college degree programs.

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Credits transferable throughout the prison system and consortium colleges.

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NJ Transfer – agreements between all two-year community colleges that every course taken at one is

transferable to any other in the state and all two-year courses are transferable to four-year public colleges and universities.

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Higher education institutions as primary employers of students (e.g. work-study, student employees in contracted services).

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Coordinators at each facility.

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Campus-based reentry counselors to assist with the college enrollment process and other services.

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Associate of Arts and BA degree (10-25 students per class, developmental courses as needed).

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Combined courses with inmates and civilian student volunteers.

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Mandatory training for all instructional personnel.

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Academic holds which can be requested pending inmate transfers.

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Student Advisory Boards at each facility.

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Part-time academic counselors in each facility to provide course selection guidance.

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Technology – live video classes through Skype for segregated areas.

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Tutoring by NJ-STEP staff and community partners.

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Mentoring by formerly incarcerated persons, service providers, and civilian students who have degrees or are currently enrolled.

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A pre-release meeting with an NJ-STEP Admissions Officer.

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Daily food allowances provided by the host campus for halfway house residents.

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Post-release reentry services including benefits screening, financial literacy, workforce development, legal services, and mentoring by NJ-STEP.

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Case Planning – automated risk/needs/strengths assessment to be updated before release as part of a parole plan.

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Highlights of North Carolina’s Pathways from Prison Model

Higher Education Institutions (6): Asheville-Buncombe Technical, Stanley, Pamlico, Pitt, Mayland, and Central

Piedmont Community Colleges

Prisons (8): Male and Female, Medium and Minimum Security

Pilot Communities: Greenville (Pitt County), Charlotte (Mecklenburg County), and Asheville (Buncombe County) Key Program Components:

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Eligibility to apply to the Pathways program open to students from prisons throughout the state if they plan to be released to Charlotte, Ashville, or Greenville. Accepted students will be transferred to one of the

participating facilities to begin their coursework.

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Shared housing within the same dormitory/wing of a dormitory for Pathways inmates.

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Group classes and structured study hall time for Pathways participants.

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An Associate of Applied Science degree program, with the opportunity to earn a certificate after 12 credit hours in computer information technology, business administration, or entrepreneurship.

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Access to increased technology to facilitate academic learning through computer labs with Wi-Fi capability and other e-learning opportunities.

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Incentives provided for in-prison academic course persistence and completion.

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Success teams composed of a prison case manager, prison education staff, community corrections

representative, and community college or university instructors. The success team will help students transition from prison to community. The main purpose of the team is to develop an educational plan with the student to identify appropriate courses and scheduling (pre- and post-incarceration), monitor student progress, and provide any necessary support to the student during and after incarceration and after release and transition.

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Success Coaches – community college staff trained in the areas of human resource development, continuing education, and student support services. The success coach will meet the Pathways student while the student is incarcerated. Upon release, the success coach will be the student’s point of contact on the college campus.

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Pathways Navigator – a navigator will be an advocate for the Pathways participant and help them connect with services that are available in the community. Navigators will help participants prepare for meetings with professors.

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Local Reentry Councils in the pilot communities.

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Counseling, mentoring, and other services that a student in transition from prison may need provided by North Carolina Employment and Training (NC E&T), with a focus on retention, completion, and employment.

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A partnership with Division of Workforce Solutions, the Post Release Supervision and Parole Commission, and the North Carolina Community College System.

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Highlights of Michigan’s Pathways from Prison Model

Higher Education Institutions (3): Jackson College, Kalamazoo Valley and Oakland Community Colleges Prisons (2): Macomb Correctional Facility and Parnall Correctional Facility; these are the facilities that prepare

specific groups of prisoners for return to Pontiac and Kalamazoo, respectively.

Pilot Communities: Pontiac and Kalamazoo Key Program Components:

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Shared housing units for program participants.

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A four-week assessment phase including:

• Power Path – a computer-based assessment to identify learning challenges. Power Path will help students determine intervention strategies and teach them organizational skills.

• Compass – an adaptive college placement test that evaluates core skill levels.

• Labor ready assessment – an evaluation of job readiness behaviors.

• Burning Glass – a software program that provides information about prospective employment in chosen areas specific to precise geographic locations, industries, or occupations.

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A College Readiness Plan to be developed for each student, with the student’s input. The plan will identify how courses taken in prison will fit into the student’s overall college plan.

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Digital Literacy and Keyboarding – a digital literacy course leading to a Microsoft-issued certificate of completion.

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Supervised computer lab with dedicated time for Pathways students.

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Study Skills and Structured Study Hall Time – single-session workshop and one-hour per week facilitated study sessions. Additional dedicated time will be arranged in the library or through an open class.

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Course Placement including:

• Basic Reading and/or Basic Math – six-week intervals of courses to prepare students for college-level coursework.

• College Courses – four different college courses per year that are transferable from community colleges to baccalaureate colleges and universities.

• Vocational Courses leading to state or national certifications in auto mechanics or building trades, with hopes to approve college credit for courses taught by trade instructors at the facilities.

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Student Success Workshops to help students complete/submit college applications and familiarize participants with services provided by the college.

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Reentry Coordinators who will develop highly specific reentry plans to assist with employment, housing, mental illness, and services to address addictions and other areas of need.

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Pre- and post-release workshops on family reintegration, substance abuse, veterans’ benefits, and cognitive skills training.

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Counseling and mentoring to assist students with successful transition to the education community.

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A trained parole agent familiar with the Pathways project assigned to each participant.

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Partnership with Michigan Works! and numerous community-based organizations focused on employment and related support services.

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