TACOMA – Tacoma Community College is one of 67 colleges and universities nationwide selected to participate in the Department of Education’s new Second Chance Pell pilot program, designed to provide better access to educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals.
The program will allow eligible incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants to pursue a college education, with the goal of helping them prepare for jobs so they can support themselves and their families upon release.
Tacoma Community College has had a long partnership with Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair and the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor. TCC is the state-appointed college to provide educational services at these facilities, such as horticulture, business and technical design studies.
TCC partners with the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS) as well. Pell funding will allow TCC to better utilize state investments for more higher education opportunities. With this new Pell grant and the promise of federal dollars, TCC and FEPPS will be able to expand their two-year academic programs to incarcerated individuals, toward the pathway of a bachelor’s degree, a new technical skill or new career. Re-entry planning and mentoring will ensure that students continue their education to completion of their degree or certificate, and help them effectively utilize their newfound skills as part of job placement.
“The more education an offender has, the less likely he or she will return to prison,” said TCC President Dr. Sheila Ruhland. “Second Chance is indeed the right term for this program. Education is critical for inmates’ future success and livelihood, and in turn, builds a healthier community. TCC is proud to be selected in this competitive program, and we are excited to build our academic offerings.”
Previously, inmates did not qualify for Pell Grants, limiting their educational options. According to the Department of Education, this program fits with the Obama Administration’s commitment to create a fairer and more effective criminal justice system by reducing recidivism and mitigating the impact of mass incarceration on families and communities.
Tacoma Community College joins two other colleges in Washington state to participate in this pilot – Centralia College and Seattle Central.