The University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College were chosen by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment to help incarcerated people earn credentials and get a fresh start after release.
UI and LCSC are among 73 higher education institutions invited to join the program – which is in its third round of new additions – bringing the total number of schools involved with the initiative to 200.
“Access to high-quality postsecondary education is essential to incarcerated individuals, but for far too long, people in prison were left out,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “The expansion of Second Chance Pell and these new pathways out of default are critical steps for incarcerated individuals to be able to access educational opportunities that will provide second chances to build a future.”
The program was first launched in 2015 to expand access to Federal Pell Grants for incarcerated people so they can earn a credential, certificate or college degree and gain employment once they leave prison.
Nearly half of incarcerated people who participate in secondary education programs are less likely to return to prison than those who don’t, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.
To date, students involved with the initiative have earned more than 7,000 credentials.
“We know higher ed translates to improved reentry success,” said Josh Tewalt, director of the Idaho Department of Correction. “We consider the Second Chance Pell Experiment to be a great investment in public safety.”
The Biden administration is waiving previous defaults that prevented incarcerated people from participating in higher education programs.
UI and LCSC will be able to access the Pell Grant process beginning this July by collaborating with federal and state penal institutions to get students enrolled in both training and academic programs.
“We have an obligation to educate the citizens of our state,” UI President Scott Green said. “That includes those who are looking for a second chance and wanting to exit our prison system with skills they can put to work – whether that is a four-year degree, an associate degree or a specialized certificate. As institutions of higher education in Idaho, we are ready to meet the needs of all our citizens.”
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