The Department of Justice has designated this week, April 25-29 as National Reentry Week in an effort to highlight the difficult and critical work that takes place across the country to enable youth and adults to successfully reenter their communities after incarceration. Getting a good job is critical to successful reentry, and in today’s economy people need a postsecondary credential to secure steady employment with a livable wage. Strong education and training programs are needed to make good on the promise of a second chance after incarceration.
The Department of Education has made reentry education a priority. The Department of Education has developed a Reentry Education Framework and the Reentry Education Toolkit to help corrections and community partners design and implement high-quality reentry education programs. The nine grantees of the Improved Reentry Education grant programs, including prisons and county jails, community colleges, and community-based organizations, are implementing this framework in communities across the country.
- Washburn University of Topeka (KS) (read a participant's story below)
- Barton County Community College (KS) (read their story of success)
- Essex County College (NJ) (watch their video)
- Miami-Dade County (FL)
- Lorain County Community College (OH)
- Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (PA)
- Western Technical College (WI) (watch news coverage below)
- Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA)
- United Teen Equality Center, Inc. (MA)
JFF is very fortunate and excited to provide technical assistance to the IRE grantees. As an organization, JFF has worked for decades to create pathways to opportunity for youth and adults facing significant barriers to education and employment, such as through our Back on Track and Accelerating Opportunity Initiatives, and especially important to our work is supporting second chances for those returning from incarceration. National Reentry Week brings well-deserved recognition to these efforts and the work of program providers and people trying to turn their lives around. We look forward to advancing the cause!
Watch a video about grantee Western Technical College and their PROVEN and PROVEN to Work program.
Here's another interview and video about PROVEN, and an interview with a couple who completed the program.
Here is a short promotional video about the BROWNS program (Bridging Reentry Opportunities for Workforce Navigation to Success) at Essex County College.
A participant from grantee Washburn University of Topeka sent in the following story:
Joelle Lehman, Washburn Institute of Technology
I was released from Topeka Correctional Facility this past December. I wanted to share with you and your current/future students what completing the WIT program has done for me. Since the first of January, I have been working full time as a CNA with a former employer. I am so grateful they rehired me. After settling in, I started thinking about my future more. With the assistance of my [program] representative, I am enrolling for a CMA program that starts in July.
In comparison to [a] regular semester class, this one will be condensed to fewer weeks. It will be full of a lot of new, more difficult learning material in a relatively short amount of time. Because of my whole experience with WIT, I have the confidence in my ability to try, to finish, and to graduate.
Education is an incredible gift and should never be taken for granted, but maybe even more great is the self respect and confidence that comes from obtaining that education. I will not ever forget what has been given me!
Sincerely, Joelle Lehman
- Supporting Second Chances: Education and Employment Strategies for People Returning from Correctional Facilities