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Community Colleges Help Inmates Move Into the Workforce


April 19, 2013


Community Colleges Help Inmates Move Into the Workforce

Last week I attended a webinar on re-entry education for prison inmates, hosted by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education. According to the presentation, 95 percent of all inmates will be released back into the community, and CTE and community colleges play a major role in helping them enter or return to the workforce.

Three initiatives were profiled in this webinar:

  • Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project: This project works with inmates two years before their release and two years after, with a goal for students to acquire a degree or credential. Prison-based postsecondary education is provided by local colleges, and the initiative includes other support services as well as linkages to employers.
  • Peninsula College Corrections Education: This college in the far corner of Washington state works to incorporate the community college environment and resources into in-prison education. The initiative is based on the I-BEST model, which integrates basic skills and CTE. Participating prisons allow limited online access for students, enabling them to use Khan Academy and other online education resources.
  • CEO Academy: This re-entry training partnership between the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and Hostos Community College in New York is a program for former inmates that helps them move from entry-level employment to more high-wage, high-skilled work. It integrates academic and technical instruction, leads to a certificate and includes input from employers. Representatives from CEO  stated that the organization places about 50-75 percent of graduates in employment, and some students succeed in finding employment without assistance from CEO. Funding for the program comes from a combination of private money as well as Workforce Investment Act funding, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding and education funding.

Two students were on the webinar to discuss their experiences and outcomes. It was an informative and inspirational event!

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