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Our Story

What is Transcending Through Education Foundation (TTEF)?

A non-profit organization which provides resources and support for incarcerated individuals in Rhode Island state prisons to obtain higher education. About 95% of incarcerated individuals get out of prison, but about 60% of them go back without rehabilitation. It has been seen that education drives down recidivism and gives individuals a better chance to lead better lives and give back to their community. Indeed, TTEF believes that individuals can transcend their current circumstances through the pursuit of education.

Donate HERE through our Generosity campaign.

TTEF provides scholarships to both individuals who are (1) pursuing education while incarcerated as well as (2) individuals who are transitioning out of incarceration with the goal of pursuing education upon release. The organization provides mentorship, counseling, study skills and habits workshops, financial aid and money management workshops, and most importantly scholarship money to help get the education process started for these deserving individuals. With $5,000, TTEF can help support the education of five beneficiaries.

For more information:

http://www.transcendingthrougheducation.org/

https://transcendingthrougheducation.wordpress….

Who are the men and women we are helping?

Here are some inspiring stories:

(1) An incarcerated man who has incredible self-drive and motivation. He has earned college credits while incarcerated with the goals of finishing his bachelor’s degree upon release. He is pursuing a business degree so that he can ultimately open his own restaurant. He wished to cultivate a community establishment that hires, trains, and mentors formerly incarcerated individuals. All of his work is geared toward helping and mentoring others as his way to give back and share the many life lessons he has learned. He has received praise from prison staff for his mentorship of other inmates.

(2) An individual who has earned 21 credits while incarcerated from Community College of Rhode Island with a 3.5 gpa. Has enrolled and completed over 20 educational programs offered to inmates. This man has used his love for writing and literature to turn his life around. He uses his stories to convey positivity and influence others. He wants to prevent other young people from becoming trapped in a negative spiral like he was.

(3) A father with a young son at home who is trying to use his incarceration time as best he can to pave the way for a better life for his family when he is released. Believes that education can open future doors for him and serve as a tool he can use to give back. Desires to help other’s in order to make up for the bad choices he has made. Begun a degree in general education studies and wished to teach other’s so that through education they can better their lives and avoid making the same mistakes he made.

(4) An incarcerated woman who felt she had no guidance as a troubled youth. Wants to change this scenario for future generations and is pursuing a career as a counselor for adolescents. Currently enrolled in classes at the Community College of Rhode Island. She wants to complete her degree once released and open a private practice focused on mentoring and assisting troubled youth in the community.

Please consider making a donation to our Generosity campaign today!

2016 TTEF Awards

Dear TTEF supporters,

We write to let you know that we recently made our annual TTEF awards, thanks to your support and generosity!

We are awarding four scholarships this year.  All of the award winners are pursuing or will pursue college degrees—two at Adams State University, one at the Community College of Rhode Island, and one at place to be determined.

  • Recipient No. 1 has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. He plans on using his award to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Adams State University while incarcerated.
  • Recipient No. 2.  has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.  He will soon be released from the Rhode Island Training School and will inform us where he will begin his studies.
  • Recipient No. 3 has been awarded a $500 grant.  He plans on using his grant to purse an associate’s degree at the Community College of Rhode Island while incarcerated.
  • Recipient No. 4 has been awarded a $500 grant.  He plans on using his grant to purse a bachelor’s degree at Adams State University.

We thank you for your past and continued support!

Some Stories on Formerly Incarcerated People Who Graduated This Year From Institutions of Higher Learning

We at TTEF are heartened to read stories like those listed below noting the accomplishments of formerly incarcerated people who graduated from institutions of higher education this past graduation cycle.  There were more, and we send congratulations to all graduates who were formerly incarcerated!

From Columbia: https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/research/incarceration-prevention-program/announcements.

From UC Berkeley: http://www.dailycal.org/2016/05/15/campus-hosts-1st-ever-graduation-ceremony-formerly-incarcerated-students/.

From University of Maine: http://bangordailynews.com/2016/05/13/news/state/maine-law-school-grad-with-felony-history-faces-test-of-character/.

Dress Down Day at Providence City Hall to Support TTEF

TTEF

Today, Mayor Elorza in Providence invited City Hall employees to take part in a Dress Down Day with a minimum $1 donation to help raise funds for TTEF.

We very much appreciate Mayor Elorza and the employees of City Hall for their support, and thank them.

TTEF is in its fourth year of holding workshops detailing the college application process inside Rhode Island prisons, awarding scholarships to people in prison or transitioning out of prison who are pursuing higher education, and providing mentors to our awardees.

Please consider supporting TTEF.  You can do so here.

TTEF Updates as 2015 Enters the Holiday Season

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Dear TTEF Supporters,

As 2015 begins to wind down, we write about several items. First, we want to wish you a happy upcoming holiday season. We also write to thank you for all of the support you have given TTEF over the last three years.

Because of those efforts, we have been able to support the higher education efforts of 11 individuals by collectively awarding them almost $10,000 in scholarship and grant money. Due to your support, we have also been able to conduct yearly workshops about applying to college with a criminal record across the facilities at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (“RIDOC”) that have reached hundreds of individuals. Also, for some awardees, we have been able to pair them up with mentors so that they have someone they can reach out to for advice as they navigate their higher education journey.

We have been able to do this despite not having any paid staff—in other words, with all-volunteer officers and board members. Soon, however, TTEF plans to embark on a fundraising campaign to, among other things, be able to hire its first staff member. The staff member will help us coordinate and expand our programming (Rhode Island and into other states) and also help us solidify our funding streams and seek out new ones.

We hope you will consider supporting TTEF, including in any of the following, as we begin our fundraising campaign:

  • Donating to TTEF via its updated website.
  • Simply go to the website and click on the “Support Us” tab at the bottom right have of the screen or on the “donate” tab across the top of the screen.
  • When you click on the “Support Us” tab, besides donating, you will also be able to click on the “Shop to Support” icon which will provide links to your favorite online shopping websites, such as Amazon, Target, and many others. If you access these stores via our website, a small percentage of any purchase you make will be donated to TTEF.

If you are able to support TTEF in any of the above ways, or in any other ways you can think of, we thank you in advance.

We also write to give you two more updates. As noted in a previous blog post, TTEF presented at the National Conference of Higher Education in Prison at the University of Pittsburgh. The conference brought together organizations and individuals from across the country that work to develop and bring higher education opportunities to people in prison. This provided TTEF with a great opportunity to profile its programming to other organizations. TTEF’s presentation was well-received, and we hope to build on the connections we made to further collective efforts to expand higher education programming for people in prison.

Lastly, TTEF will be conducting our yearly workshops at the RIDOC this December.

TTEF will present at the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison

nchep-poster-color-041On Saturday, November 7th, Transcending Through Education Foundation (TTEF) will be presenting at the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison, at the Pittsburgh University Cathedral of Learning. The Saturday 4:15 session is part of a dynamic conference from Thursday to Saturday.

TTEF’s panel, “Prison to School Pipeline: How three men got out of prison, earned law degrees and created scholarships for others” is even more than that. It is the first time the three founders will be in the same space since Andres Idarraga graduated from Yale Law School in 2011, before TTEF was created. Since then, they have individually and in pairs done in-prison workshops, mentored scholars, and Andres even provided a powerful Tedx Talk on the subject. Co-Founders Noah Kilroy, Bruce Reilly, and Andres Idarraga are excited to share three years of experience working directly with incarcerated students and prison officials to make their program a success.

“Its not just the services we provide,” says Noah Kilroy. “It’s how we provide them, and who those students are getting the message from. For us, by us. We know how it was, and we know how it feels to struggle just to learn everything you can.” As an attorney who also works on parole hearings and post-conviction petitions, Kilroy receives daily reminders of people striving to turn things around and start fresh.

The Department of Education’s recent announcement that pilot programs will receive Pell Grant funding has encouraged many educators and activists to merge their efforts into restoring educational pathways that have not existed in decades. Such excitement is not confined to the educators. “Money will come and go,” Reilly explains, “but the biggest thing we provide is hope. In prison, hope is a commodity in short supply.” Recently named Deputy Director of Voice of the Ex-Offender, in New Orleans, Reilly is familiar with the myriad obstacles for families on all parts of the criminal justice spectrum.

As the nation re-examines the far-reaching policies of mass incarceration and considers options to rebuild and heal communities, the advancement of education in all corners of society is an essential element to success.

Overcoming Odds, Now Helping Others

Bruce Andres NoahBy Tom Mooney

Originally Posted in The Providence Journal Jul. 25, 2015.

All three men served prison time for serious crimes. All three got out and, against insurmountable odds, graduated from law school. Two are lawyers. And now, convinced of the power of knowledge to change any life, they have formed a nonprofit foundation that provides scholarships for inmates approaching release to pursue higher education.

The Transcending Through Education Foundation was started by former inmates Andres Idarraga, Noah Kilroy and Bruce Reilly. Idarraga served several years in the Adult Correctional Institutions on drug charges. Released in 2004, he earned two degrees from Brown University before earning a law degree from Yale in 2011. He now practices complex litigation at a law firm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Kilroy served time for various drug felonies between the ages of 16 and 23 before he was released in 2003 from a Florida prison and devoted his life to learning. He is now a lawyer and an assistant city solicitor in Providence.

Reilly served 12 years at the ACI for second-degree murder. He graduated from Tulane Law School last year and works as a writer and organizer for several social causes, including securing voting rights and employment for former offenders.

“We wanted to give back — or at least reach back — and let people know how they can do this,” said Reilly.

The foundation awards scholarships of up to $1,000 to any accredited institution for individuals who are coming out of prison determined to improve their lives. The foundation also provides mentoring services — primarily through the foundation’s three founders — to help guide ex-convicts through the college experience.

“We are filling an unmet need,” says Kilroy, noting that Congress banned Pell Grant eligibility for ex-convicts in 1994.

Kilroy says criminals should be punished, as he was, for breaking the law. “But if you really want them to stay out of prison, well, let’s make sure they have the tools to do so. In our [three] cases education stopped the criminal behavior.”

“There is a wealth of untapped potential over there” at the Adult Correctional Institutions, says Kilroy. “I wasn’t even the smartest guy in my cell block. And that’s the point here. In each of our stories we would not be where we are now without the help and mentoring we received.”

— tmooney@providencejournal.com