Can’t any person who wants to earn a college education while in prison do so now anyway, without the help of the foundation?
Absolutely not. In fact, it is nearly impossible for an inmate in a U.S. prison to earn a college education today. However, most people are unaware of this fact.
When did this situation change?
Prior to 1995, prisoners were eligible for Pell Grants and other government funds for post-secondary education. With the passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill in 1995, all government funds for post-secondary education were cut off. The effect of that was to put higher education out of reach of nearly all prisoners, with the exception of the few who have access to family funds to pay the tuition.
How big is the need?
In 1995 when the government funding was cut, just under 2% of America’s inmate population were receiving Pell Grants. At that time, based on the size of the U.S. prison population, it amounted to just under 20,000 individuals. Using the same number today, 2% of the prison population amounts to over 40,000 people. So, the need expressed as a percentage is relatively small. However, when expressed as a number, the need is huge. It affects over 40,000 individual lives. Even providing an annual scholarship of only $2,500 for each of those individuals would exceed $100,000,000.
What does the foundation do?
By working with accredited institutions of higher learning and generous donors, we transform lives by changing the minds of individuals in America’s state and federal prisons. We do this by providing the opportunity to achieve an associates or bachelors degree while in prison. We do not charge the prison, the prisoner or anyone else for our services.
Who does the foundation help?
We help men and women in America’s state and federal prisons and, through the ConnectPoint Network, their families as well.
Will earning a college degree really benefit a person and help reduce recidivism?
Yes. We know that the intellectual rigors of post-secondary study changes a person. And with the change inherent in that process comes not only personal credibility, but also individual maturity.
These things, along with the newly acquired economic skills that an education brings, allows the individual to compete and thrive in our economy and become the kind of husband, father and citizen he was meant to be.
Not only does this make logical sense; it is also common sense. And, numerous recidivism studies have proven that the more education an ex-convict has, the lower his or her chance of recidivating.
Why is what foundation does important?
Many reasons, almost too numerous to list. Here are a few: 1) a human mind is changed, through the intellectual rigors of formal education, and a life is transformed, 2) recidivism is reduced, 3) taxpayer money is saved by breaking the cycle of crime and imprisonment, 4) it’s the Christian thing to do, and 5) it’s the right thing to do.
Won’t we just have “smarter criminals” if we educate them?
No. By failing to educate the men and women in our prisons today, we are assuring that many will be back in our prisons again tomorrow. It is only by changing their thinking and giving them the economic skills to make it in society that we can assure that they will become productive fathers, mothers and citizens. When an individual is released back into society with the same thought patterns and economic skills that he or she had years earlier when incarcerated, a return to crime is nearly assured. And that’s one of the reasons that today’s recidivism rate is so high.
What is the GOALS Seminar?
The "Go Out And Live Successfully" Seminar is given in America's jails and prisons by certain qualified staff members and volunteers of the foundation. The GOALSTM Seminar has six workshops, each fifty minutes in length. Among other topics, areas addressed include: life mapping; an objective analysis of personal values, ethics, morals and priorities; choicemaking; goal-setting; and the development of a moral and ethical "worldview". The importance and value of education is highlighted.
What is your mission?
Our mission is to transform the lives of incarcerated men and women by encouraging educational achievement and providing post-secondary educational opportunities. We are dedicated to prisoner education and to the successful re-entry of ex-offenders back into the community.
How specific can I make my designated or restricted gifts?
As specific as you want. For example, you could designate that your donation be used to benefit only men (or women) who are under age 30, who are first time non-violent offenders, who are married and have children under age 10.
If you wanted to get even more specific, you could even further limit your funds to be used only toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree from a Christian university in preparation for ministry.
You can target the use of your donor dollars as specifically as you desire.
How can I be assured that my money will be well spent?
You can check us out with some of the charity watchdog groups. You can also request a copy of our audited financial statements, our Annual Report, our IRS Form 1023 and our IRS Form 990, which is filed annually.
Won’t my money go to bad people who are ungrateful, unpleasant and menacing?
No. However, the stereotypical prison inmate you see on television does exist. He is selfish, rude, belligerent, arrogant, angry, irresponsible, unsocialized and quite frankly, a menace. But, please understand that he is most likely among the 54% of the prison population that lack their high school diploma or GED. Without question, he is not interested in working to earn his college degree. So, it is unlikely that your donor dollars will end up benefiting this individual.
Rather, dollars donated to provide higher education for prisoners benefits only 2% of the prison population. These are normally younger offenders, often first time offenders, who have not had the benefit and upbringing that most of us have received. They simply need a break and a helping hand. This is their opportunity. This is their chance; and you can help.
Who should become a donor?
Any foundation, corporation, individual, church or charity desiring to really make a difference in the life of someone who is considered less fortunate and “down on his or her luck.” It is a way to make a significant difference in that individual’s life and the life of his or her children, as well as society in general. Quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.
What are the requirements for receiving a scholarship?
To qualify for a scholarship, a prisoner must:
Have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate,
Be a U.S. citizen,
Be within seven (7) years of release,
Have no serious disciplinary incidents within the past 12 months, and
Be accepted into an Associate or Baccalaureate Degree Program with a regionally accredited college approved by the foundation.
Additionally, preference will be given to individuals who meet one or both of the following criteria:
Successfully earned GED while incarcerated, and/or
Are able to pay part of the net cost of tuition and need only matching dollars.
Because some individuals have good intentions but lack the willingness or ability to follow through to completion, scholarships normally are awarded in incremental amounts and are based on academic performance. Initial scholarship grants are normally awarded for a maximum of four(4) credit hours and can be doubled each semester, up to a maximum of sixteen(16) credit hours per semester.
The foundation may also provide full or partial scholarships to individuals who are not currently in a state or federal prison and meet the following three conditions:
He or she must have been incarcerated in a state or federal prison, or a local jail, within the past twelve(12) months,
He or she must have applied for and received all federal, state and other grants and loans that are available to them now that they are no longer incarcerated, and
He or she must have already been receiving a foundation scholarship at the time of their release; or alternatively, the scholarship amount needed will be underwritten by a church, corporation or other third party donor via designated or restricted fund donations. (Consult your tax advisor regarding donations underwitten and intended for a specific individual).
What are the requirements for maintaining a scholarship?
To maintain a scholarship:
Donor funds must be available,
The student must maintain a grade equivalent of C or better on all courses and a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher, and
The student must not be involved in a serious disciplinary incident.
How do I contact the foundation?
You may contact Prison Education Foundation by mail at 2661 Commons Blvd., Beavercreek, Ohio 45431.
Or, you may telephone us at (877) 361-1725.
Our website address is: www.prisonedu.org; and you may email us by visiting our Contact Us page.
How do I obtain a Scholarship Application?
Request one from your prison’s education department or by writing or calling the Prison Education Foundation directly. You may also download an application from our website.
How do I select a degree program and school?
It’s easy. Simply review the degrees offered by each school. Then select the degree you wish to work toward. It’s that easy.
How can I find out more about the schools in your program?
Click on the "Schools & Enrollment" tab on our website and then click on the link for the schools you want to learn more about. You will be taken to that school's website. You may also request, in writing or by phone, the catalogs and enrollment applications directly from the schools.
Are the schools in your program properly accredited?
Yes. All of the schools are fully and properly accredited by a regional accrediting association.
Can I transfer credits from previous college work toward my degree?
Yes, if you earned those credits from schools that were properly accredited by a regional accrediting association.
How do I submit a Scholarship Application?
Simply download or order an application and send it to:
Prison Education Foundation, Inc.
2661 Commons Blvd.
Beavercreek, Ohio 45431
How do I enroll in a school?
Once Prison Education Foundation approves you for a scholarship, we will order a school catalog and enrollment application which will be sent directly to you. Complete the enrollment application and send it, along with the school’s required enrollment fee, directly to the school. Prison Education FoundationTM does not charge a fee.
What classes should I take?
The classes you take will be determined by the degree you select. After your scholarship is approved you will receive a catalog and enrollment information directly from the school you selected. Once you enroll, you will receive guidance from the school as to the requirements for your degree and assistance in registering for specific classes.
Where do I take my examinations?
Your prison education department will be the proctor for your school examinations. Prior to sending for an exam, notify your education department staff that you need to take an exam. Then request the exam from the school. It will be sent directly to a staff member in the education department, who will then schedule and administer your exam.
As a Warden or Prison Education Director, how do I make this program available in my institution?
Simply download and print the "COLLEGE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY NOTICE" from our website and post it in your education department, chapel office, library and housing units.
You may also want to download and print a supply of the actual Scholarship Applications from our website so you can give them to interested inmates.
Of course, all of our services are available to you free of charge.
If a particular Warden chooses not to post the “COLLEGE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY NOTICE”, will the inmates in that institution be unable to participate in the Prison Education Foundation program?
No. They can still take advantage of our program. They will simply need to write or call the foundation directly. The education department in all prisons will proctor exams, even if they do not actively promote the Prison Education Foundation program.
And, that institution's inmates will eventually become aware of the foundation through the informal prison grapevine, which, because inmates are routinely transferred into and out of different facilities, is very strong.
Additionally, Prison Education FoundationTM continues to become known through its public relations efforts and through postings on internet sites that the families of incarcerated individuals routinely visit.
How do I become a member of the ConnectPoint Network?
Simply contact the foundation. We will discuss the details, requirements and expectations. You need to be willing to become actively involved in a prisoners life and the life of his or her wounded and struggling family. It will take an investment of your time, your money and your prayers. But, the satisfaction of living out your faith by helping a fellow human being and his or her family is well worth it.
What is expected of me as a community ConnectPoint team member?
A lot. You will be asked to establish and build a long-term relationship with a person in prison who will eventually be released back into your community. You will also be asked to establish and build a relationship with that prisoner’s wounded family living in your local community. You will be expected to provide encouragement, nurture and assistance.
Upon release, you will be called upon to help in finding employment, housing, transportation and a host of other needs. You will be instrumental in connecting that family to your local church family. You’ll make an investment of time, prayer and some money; but soon realize it was worth the effort.
Are the community transition services that ConnectPoint provides available only to inmates that have participated in post-secondary education?
No. Any inmate or ex-inmate, as well as his or her family, is welcome to receive help from the ConnectPoint Network.
What if I have more questions?
Simply contact us. We would love to speak with you and tell you more about the work of the Prison Education Foundation.