Great Lakes Exploring Higher Education in Prison
New Grant to Assess Impact of Career Prep Program and Role of Advising in Minnesota System
Higher education in prison can offer students credentials that lead to jobs with livable wages after release, but challenging state budgets offer little funding for these programs. Through research we commissioned from the RAND Corporation in 2016, we learned about opportunities to invest in the field, including a promising program in the Minnesota Correctional Education Center (MCEC).
In January we made a grant of nearly $2 million to support MCEC as they measure the impacts of expanded course offerings and advising. Funding covers the costs of instructors and equipment that will allow up to 2,100 students access to courses that lead to credentials in heavy equipment and forklift operations and OSHA 10 safety certifications. These credentials were identified as being in high demand for infrastructure projects in Minnesota. One of our long-term interests in this project is to learn more about the benefits of advising for incarcerated students. To that end, this grant also supports the addition of career navigators, who will help students make the most of their course options and prepare them for post-release employment.
To determine whether the coaching provided by career navigators makes a difference when it comes to employment outcomes, we committed an additional $500,000 to RAND to conduct an evaluation. We hope this work will highlight institutional changes that can help justice-involved students realize their potential through education, and we plan to use that information to inform future investments in the field. Read more.