Stories of hope and redemption are very powerful. The Second Chance Pell Program is giving incarcerated individuals at the Brooklyn Correctional Institution the opportunity to create their own stories through access to higher education.
Quinebaug Valley Community College is one of 65 colleges nationwide selected in 2016 to participate in the Second Chance Pell Program initiative, which examines whether expanding access to financial aid increases incarcerated adults’ participation in educational opportunities.
QVCC has partnered with the Brooklyn facility to offer courses in manufacturing and business administration to individuals likely to be released within five years. Manufacturing students are able to take the required non-lab courses and finish the program at one of the community college manufacturing centers. Business students are able to complete a certificate in management while incarcerated.
This spring 12 individuals were awarded certificates at a graduation ceremony held June 5. At the same time 18 inmates were honored for being named to the dean’s list.
“Some of my students from this program are among the best students I have had in my 30-year career at QVCC,” said instructor Buz Sherman. “These men are optimistic, capable, determined, hardworking, and respectful, and many have exceeded the high expectations the staff had of them.” Sherman is confident that if given a second chance upon release, these individuals will be productive and successful. “Others will be as impressed as we have been,” he added.
A former participant credits his experience with the Second Chance Pell Program for the success he now enjoys. “QVCC staff and teachers are passionate about the Second Chance Pell program and go above and beyond for the students. As a former inmate who excelled in classes while incarcerated, I am now enjoying success in my career…because of the seed that was planted through the program.
“Many former felons cannot find jobs, but for those who have some education, employers are far more willing to take a chance and doors will be opened. The program has afforded me so many opportunities for personal expansion, and my quality of life has improved dramatically.” He is currently enrolled at QVCC and planning to complete his associate’s degree. “
Ruth Delaney, program manager at Vera Institute of Justice, which provides technical assistance to participating colleges and corrections departments, said Connecticut is in the top five states in terms of the number of students served by the Second Chance Pell Program. “We applaud the partnership between the Connecticut Department of Corrections and QVCC,” she said. “Due to their work together, these students have the opportunity to succeed in their chosen careers when they return home to their families and communities.”
For more information and an update on the Second Chance Pell initiative, visit https://www.vera.org/publications/second-chance-pell-experimental-sites-initiative-update
Released June 28, 2018