Groundbreaking program gives incarcerated people the chance to get a college degree
Miami, July 5, 2022 – Miami Dade College (MDC) is about to graduate 19 students under the Second Chance Pell Experiment (SCP)a program of US Department of Education which provides Pell Grants to those imprisoned so that they can pursue post-secondary education. Graduates will receive their diploma at a ceremony to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, at the Everglades Correctional Facility. Workplaces must be pre-approved to enter the facility.
MDC was first selected to participate in the program in 2020. After months of preparation, including recruiting and training faculty, enrolling students, processing admissions, and financial aid, the College launched its first semester of teaching in January 2021.
Over five semesters, students took 12 to 13 credits each term to complete a 20-course curriculum that included English, math, college preparation, social studies, philosophy, chemistry, Spanish, social studies and more.
The program reflects some of the standard schooling arrangements available at MDC, with most classes delivered face-to-face and students working with the Blackboard learning management system to submit assignments and take assessments. In-class sessions via Zoom are also available for teachers who cannot travel to the correctional facility; however, most of the courses offered in the last five semesters have been taught by professors on a weekly basis to teach in person.
The program was a resounding success, with the first cohort achieving an average GPA of 3.75. and students are recognized for their academic success, as was the case with larry fordhamwho was selected for a Academic Excellence Award in Social Sciences in April 2022. Fordham has just been released from prison after serving 32 years.
“Dr. Brantley and I established the Institute for Educational Empowerment (IEE) at MDC in 2015 after discovering the limited post-secondary education opportunities available to the more than 90,000 people incarcerated in state or federal prison in Florida” , said Professor Samantha Carlo. “As teachers committed to the mission of MDC, we believe that education is the great equalizer. Receiving an education while incarcerated can help overcome many of the barriers presented to returning citizens, paving the way to a prosperous future for our students, while improving the communities in which we live.
After earning associate degrees, graduates of the program are eligible to enroll in MDC’s bachelor’s degree program in supervision and management, which begins again in August 2022.
The program continues at MDC with a second SCP cohort that began classes in January. The College is already working on the selection and admission of the third batch of students which will begin in January 2023. The MDC is also expanding the program to other Florida correctional facilities as well in January of next year.
The SCP program at MDC is possible thanks to the dedicated work of Dr. Minca Davis-Brantley, Professor Samantha Carlo and the Second Chance Pell team. Since 2013, Professors Davis-Brantley and Carlo have worked diligently to bring the Pell program to fruition. The faculty has established essential working relationships with key partners and has been at the forefront of securing grants to help supplement the administrative costs associated with running the program.
The Second Chance Pell Experience was established in 2015 by the Obama-Biden administration to provide Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals to enable them to participate in post-secondary education programs. To date, students have obtained more than 7,000 identifiers, learning new skills and improving their chances of success through initiative. Select colleges and universities partner with federal and state correctional facilities in nearly all 50 states to enroll thousands of incarcerated students in education and training programs. The vast majority of schools selected are public two- and four-year institutions. For more information, visit https://www.vera.org.
WHAT: Second Chance Pell Experience Graduation
WHEN: Tuesday July 26 at 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Everglades Correctional Institution, 1599 SW 187e Av.
For more information on the upcoming SCP Graduationplease contact Professor Samantha Carlo at 305-237-8072, [email protected]