The Prison Education Project Reentry Program has received a $32,000 grant from the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis to support justice-involved individuals and their families. To ensure the full impact of its educational offerings, the Prison Education Project (PEP) provides free education-centered reentry planning and support for currently incarcerated and recently released students. With support from the Lutheran Foundation, PEP will develop and deliver a series of twelve capacity-building workshops focused on financial literacy, health (including mental health), and technology for recently released PEP students and their families. PEP will also hire a part-time Alumni Coordinator to help develop and implement this programming. These workshops will allow participants to acquire the skills and knowledge essential for completing their degrees and/or pursuing employment opportunities that use their educational training.
This workshop series will serve 10 formerly incarcerated PEP students and up to 3 adult family members of each of the students – a total of 40 people. In addition, many of the materials that the grant will help PEP develop for these workshops (e.g., resource manuals, workshop exercises) will also be made available to other PEP students as they gain release in future months and years and will provide the basis for future programming.
The primary goal for the workshop series is to ensure that PEP students have equitable access to higher education and to the professional opportunities that their college education makes possible. Because formerly incarcerated students all too often face significant barriers in technology use, building and repairing credit, participating in banking, and navigating health care systems, PEP’s Reentry Program aims to provide its recently released students with basic knowledge and skills in these areas so that they can surmount barriers to educational and professional success. Ultimately, this series of workshops, resource materials, and peer support from an Alumni Coordinator facilitating the workshops will ensure that PEP students can take full advantage of their academic training and degrees in the same way that non-justice-involved Washington University students do as they secure employment and financial stability for themselves and their families.