Carol Neel is a history professor at Colorado College and is heavily involved with the college’s “Liberal Arts in Correctional Facilities” initiative, which is entering its third year. Denver’s PB and K Family Foundation awarded the program a three-year, $60,000 seed grant to sustain the college’s partnership with Pueblo Community College in providing in-prison education, currently at Youth Offender Services.
“LACF has since raised another $15,000 and is seeking further funds to secure the long-term future of this educational contribution to the public good,” a CC news release said, adding, “Under this program, part of the college’s Collaborative for Community Engagement, Colorado College faculty offer core liberal arts courses at no cost to either incarcerated men and women ... .”
Through PCC, students receive credit guaranteed to transfer to any public college or university in Colorado. Courses include introductory humanities, writing for undergraduate success and college math.
“We initiated a conversation with the Department of Corrections on how, as a 501(c)3, but more specifically as a liberal arts college, we could make a contribution to the state and region,” Neel said. “We were aware of a number of national models where liberal arts institutions and other academic institutions make a pro bono contribution to education in correctional facilities.”
A recent RAND Corporation study found that for every $1 investment in prison education programs, there is up to a $5 reduction in incarceration costs during the first three years post-release for a prisoner.
“To make that happen requires extraordinary cooperation between public and private agencies and we’re honored to participate with the DOC and Pueblo Community College,” Neel said. “There are very few things like that nationally — where public community colleges and private colleges and correctional systems work together. That’s a great model for making this a better world. . . ."
“We say for our students here — and I would say for students anywhere — [education] makes your life richer and more enjoyable, to see your life in some kind of larger context and simply to know big things.”
(Excerpt from article published by Bryan Grossman, Editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal)