OCTAE is proud to be involved in one of the President’s signature efforts: criminal justice reform. A Presidential weekly radio address on October 31, 2015 signaled new attention to this issue and an event in Newark, NJ on November 2, 2015 laid out the many reform efforts being undertaken by federal, state, and local governments and private enterprise. See the fact sheet released with that event.
OCTAE’s Improved Reentry Education (IRE) program, announced in the White House fact sheet, builds upon the success and lessons learned from OCTAE’s previous investment, Promoting Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities (PRSCEO) program. PRESCO aimed to address the chronic issue of underemployment for ex-offenders; provide a more constructive use of time for those under community supervision; and, create an education continuum for bridging the gap between prison and community-based education and training programs. The purpose of the IRE program is to support demonstration projects in prisoner reentry education that develop evidence of reentry education’s effectiveness. IRE seeks to demonstrate that high-quality, appropriately designed, integrated, and well-implemented educational and related services—provided in institutional and community settings—are critical in supporting educational attainment and reentry success for previously incarcerated individuals. IRE applicants were instructed to develop their own models or incorporate the revised Reentry Education Model into their project plans.
In September 2015, the Department awarded IRE grants to nine sites:
- Washburn University of Topeka (KS)
- Barton County Community College (KS)
- Essex County College (NJ)
- Miami-Dade County (FL)
- Lorain County Community College (OH)
- Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (PA)
- Western Technical College (WI)
- Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA)
- United Teen Equality Center, Inc. (MA)
The grants, awarded through the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act’s national activities funds, represented a diverse group of applicants who proposed programs ranging from those designed to serve all female populations to those targeting young men of color. Program structures vary from boot camp style programming, to common state wide wrap around services. The Office of Correctional Education within OCTAE’s Division of Adult Education and Literacy will assist the grantees throughout the performance period; and, they will be provided technical assistance through a contract with Jobs for the Future (JFF).
JFF will work to support the success of the IRE grantees by: supporting reentry education programs; providing direct technical assistance to grantees and other providers; assisting Department staff in monitoring IRE projects and assisting grantees to develop evaluation plans including unique processes for data collection and analysis; facilitating conferences; and, by establishing online communities of practice.
To learn more about federal efforts and resources for correctional education, see this Reentry Council Snapshot.