In 2016, we commissioned the RAND Corporation to conduct a landscape scan of higher education in prison...
August 16, 2018
Great Lakes Education Philanthropy Update

Three New Great Lakes Grants Focus on Prison Higher Education

In 2016, we commissioned the RAND Corporation to conduct a landscape scan of higher education in prison, and we learned about some promising opportunities for investment. Informed by that research, we’ve since committed nearly $5.8 million to fund several grants to support work in the field. We’ve already told you about a career and technical grant we funded in Minnesota and another designed to allow the Institute for Higher Education Policy to create a set of key performance indicators. We’re excited to announce three additional grants we’ve recently made.

1. To bolster student support services for prison learning programs, we are supporting the Prison University Project (PUP) with nearly $1 million to develop their Teaching and Learning Initiative. The goal of this project is to produce and share best practices that will draw from trauma-informed instruction techniques. Since so many incarcerated students have experienced trauma, this approach could have a profound effect on postsecondary success in prison.
2. We’ve funded a $180,000 planning grant that will allow the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) to work with eight Second Chance Pell programs across the country to identify areas for improvement and create roadmaps to positive institutional change.
3. To address a well-recognized need for a centralized set of resources among prison education practitioners, a voluntary advisory board is launching the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison to support programs nationwide. Along with support from other funders, Great Lakes is providing $300,000 that will allow the Alliance to build infrastructure, create new resources and provide practitioners with a centralized hub to grow the learning community.

Both PUP and Vera plan to share their findings through the Alliance, and as this work continues we’re excited to watch the learning community grow.

We believe that higher education has the potential to help incarcerated students transform their lives. Because students of color and students from low-income backgrounds are overrepresented in prison populations, this work advances our mission to help more students from these underserved groups gain access to the benefits of postsecondary education.

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“Making Summer Pay Off” for Ohio Community College Students

A study on academic momentum by The Graduate Center at City University of New York researchers suggests that students at two-year colleges are more likely to graduate within five years if they take summer courses in their first year. With a $3.3 million grant from Great Lakes, leading social policy and research organization MDRC is working with 10 Ohio community colleges on the Encouraging Additional Summer Enrollment (EASE) project. EASE employs a rigorous three-way randomized controlled trial to determine if the early evidence holds up, and to figure out how colleges can encourage students to complete summer courses. Review promising findings from phase one of the project: “Making Summer Pay Off: Using Behavioral Science to Encourage Postsecondary Summer Enrollment.”

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Join the Conversation! Panel to Discuss Success Strategies for Students at Rural Colleges

We are pleased to announce Great Lakes is presenting a workshop at NCAN’s “Building Bridges to Success” conference in Pittsburgh next month. Program Manager Carolyn Lee will moderate the discussion, joined by leaders from Upper Iowa University and Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in North Dakota. The panel will share strategies for overcoming barriers specific to students who attend rural colleges, with a focus on creating institutional change through emergency aid programs.

We invite you to stop by and participate in the workshop, “Holistic Supports for Student Success at Rural Colleges.” This session will take place Tuesday, September 25, 2018 from 2-3 p.m., ET. Be sure to add it to your NCAN short list!

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Celebrate Latino Student Success at Two Excelencia in Education Events This Fall

With support from Great Lakes, Excelencia in Education promotes student success in Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to help more Latino students graduate. This fall, Excelencia is hosting two separate events over two days at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. to celebrate successes and plan for the future.

“Celebración de Excelencia” on Thursday, October 11 is a celebratory dinner to honor HSIs that are leading the way in improving graduation rates. At the 2018 Accelerating Latino Student Success Institute on Friday, October 12, professionals who are setting the national agenda for Latino student achievement will share resources, success strategies and best practices with the field. Space is limited for these events, so register for one or both now.

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