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Madison, WI— Ascendium Education Group has committed up to $5 million in funding for its new initiative, “Optimizing Delivery Systems for Higher Education in Prison: Postsecondary Pathways for Re-Entry Transition.” This initiative represents Ascendium’s first major project in the higher education in prison (HEP) space since unveiling a new funding strategy featuring HEP as one of four key focus areas earlier this year.
Despite a growing number of HEP programs around the country, the majority of incarcerated people do not have access to high-quality, postsecondary educational opportunities. Too often, low-quality instruction, irrelevant credentials or minimal student support undermine student success, preventing many incarcerated students from achieving their academic and career goals.
“Our aim is to support efforts that can help us—and the field—learn what it takes to build the relationships and infrastructure necessary for broad, systemic improvement,” explained Ascendium Vice President of Education Philanthropy Amy Kerwin. “This initiative will boost the innovation already underway at our selected sites, and we’re excited to help elevate their work.”
Three sites have been chosen to receive one-year, $150,000 planning grants, with subsequent implementation funding of up to $800,000 to be awarded to successful planning sites. The selected sites are:
“The goal of the initiative is systems change. That’s why collaboration between state corrections departments, individual facilities and postsecondary providers was a key eligibility requirement for grant applicants,” Kerwin said. “We believe that refining systems and institutional policies and practices to better meet students’ needs could ultimately lead to increased access, higher credential completion rates, smoother college transfers and more meaningful employment opportunities on reentry into the community.”