Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you or the person who came up with your proposed solution to get started and/or to see the potential for it to succeed.
CP was born when the 2013 NYC Education Pioneers (EP) Fellows connected with the NY Reentry Education Network (NYREN) seeking to create an education-based project on Rikers, and partnered with CI to offer college prep. CI has done regular outreach at Rikers since 2011 when a grant from the former Mayor’s Office of Adult Education supported providers to strengthen education transitions from Rikers—yet almost none of the students CI met at Rikers visited their office post-release. The CP approach responded to the theory that a single interaction with people on Rikers did not generate enough interest for follow-through. The EP volunteers collaborated with CI and DOC to develop the curriculum and run two cohorts of students since March 2013.
Impact: What is the impact of your solution to date? Also describe the projected future impact. (If your solution is an idea you can just describe projected future impact.)
With no direct funding, but in-kind support, CP has engaged 24 students in 20+ hours of college prep in 4 months. Over 2 years of outreach, less than 5% of students CI met at Rikers connected post-release. Already almost 20% of CP students have connected with CI after their release from Rikers, and one CP student is about to enroll in college.
CP hopes to serve 100 students a year, and for half of those who complete the workshop to connect with CI or a NYREN organization within 3 months of release, and for half of those to enroll in college prep or college within 6 months. The impacts of college education include increased lifetime earnings, civic engagement, employment prospects, and public safety, and decreased recidivism and crime.
Full Impact Potential: How do you plan on spreading your solution moving forward? (Please consider spread within New York City or beyond, policy reform, how you might get others to replicate/adopt your solution or other mechanisms)
On average more than 10,000 people are incarcerated daily at Rikers, making the proposed program very small. Ideally the impact of CP on young men’s college enrollment and recidivism rates will justify CP’s future expansion in NYC jails. CP also plans to produce student-designed college promotion materials, and to partner with CUNY to install College Application Stations in Rikers jails. CP will work with the NYREN and the Education from the Inside Out Coalition on policy reform advocacy to increase access to higher education for people with criminal justice system involvement, as a cost-effective strategy for reducing incarceration and improving public safety. In the long run, CP hopes to help make Rikers Island an entry point for CUNY.