The Education Justice Program (EJP) at the University of Illinois will expand its academic programs for incarcerated people thanks to a three-year, $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It’s to establish a College-in-Prison program.
What is the College-in-Prison Program?
EJP provides a comprehensive college-in-prison program to those incarcerated at the Danville Correctional Center.
With the new funding, EJP will increase the number of courses at the state prison. This will enable incarcerated students to take two courses per semester and advance more quickly toward certificates, said EJP Director Rebecca Ginsburg.
From the current eight to ten courses per year, the number will increase to 16 by 2018 and 24 by 2020. Ginsburg said:
“This growth is made possible because the Mellon grant will enable us to pay course instructors, who until now have taught on a volunteer basis.”
College-in-Prison Grant Supports Educational Channel for Danville’s TV System
A portion of the Mellon grant is earmarked for a pilot project, which involves the development of an educational channel for the prison’s TV system.
The channel will air relevant educational films, documentaries, videos and lectures, as well as other interests such as dance, music and theater programming.
It will likely launch in spring next year and may be implemented at other state’s correctional facilities if proven successful.
College-in-Prison Grant Enhances Guest Lecturer Series, Library and Computer LaboratoryCollege for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American PrisonsEJP’s guest lecturer series at Danville is also being improved thanks to the new investment.
EJP will bring in one outside speaker for each semester to represent arts and humanities disciplines. The first lecture is expected to be held in spring 2018.
The library and technology in the prison’s computer laboratory will also get upgrades.
Around 1,000 books and DVDs will be included in the permanent circulating collection of the Danville’s library.
College-in-Prison Grant Supports Other Causes
- Develop statewide higher education program that will enable college and universities to offer degree programs to those in prison
- Provide support and services for prison loved ones and for those released from prison
- Produce two new promotional videos about EJP’s programs
- Develop evaluation protocol for documenting and assessing the long-term impact of EJP’s programs
With the new Mellon investment, Ginsburg expects to see stronger academic outcomes for incarcerated students at Danville. She also believes that it will intensify efforts to develop high-quality programs, such as college-in-prison, across the US.