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U.S. Department of Education admits Eastern Michigan University into Second Chance Pell Grant program for incarcerated students - led by two EMU professors


YPSILANTI, Mich., May 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Only 11 percent of incarcerated people in state prisons and 24 percent in federal prisons hold a post-secondary education degree and training beyond high school. Eastern Michigan University will help address this structural inequity by providing Second Chance Pell Grants to incarcerated students at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility and the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan. The program extends EMU Pell Grant funding to incarcerated students, allowing them to enroll in courses leading to bachelor's degrees on-site at the correctional institutions. The funding addresses a critical gap in prison education in Michigan and nationwide.

Eastern Michigan's involvement in the program is led by Beth Currans, administrator of the College in Prison program and department head and associate professor of Women's and Gender Studies, and her collaborator Decky Alexander, director of [email protected] and professor of Educational/Applied Theatre. "The College in Prison Program is part of a broader University initiative to cultivate post-secondary pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals," said Alexander.

"The other aspects of this initiative include the Returning Citizens Fellows program and the School of Social Work's internship program and accompanying curriculum," said Alexander. Recently, the U.S. News and World Report ranked Eastern among one of the best universities in the country in the social mobility category, for its role in helping formerly incarcerated individuals navigate both the complexities of higher education as well as the challenges to reentry, post-incarceration among others.

Currans and Alexander's efforts will begin at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Mich. where EMU faculty have voluntarily offered classes for more than 15 years as part of the College in Prison Program, which was started by Robin Lucy, professor of English Language and Literature at EMU. According to Currans, this initiative is particularly important since most of the money and infrastructure for prison education is focused on men's facilities. It also reinforces EMU's strategic mission to deliver high-performing academic programs and quality research. "Incarcerated people are too frequently forgotten or ignored by society. Women who are incarcerated are even less likely to be remembered," said Currans.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Education, "access to high-quality postsecondary education is essential to incarcerated individuals, but for far too long, people in prison were left out," said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "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."

For more information, visit the program's website.

SOURCE Eastern Michigan University


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