New Scholarship Program for Prisoners Headed to College

TTEFAs founders of a new and unique endeavor, we welcome you to the Transcending Through Education Foundation (TTEF). We have come together to create TTEF to help reverse the school-to-prison pipeline and establish the prison-to-school pipeline, We will provide financial scholarships and other support services for men and women, including juveniles, in prison (or transitioning out of prison) who are pursuing higher education. TTEF will initially begin in Rhode Island, our home state, and then seek to expand as our resources allow.

Among the compelling reasons we founded TTEF are because:

  • We want to help fulfill an unmet need. College financial aid for men and women in prison, and those transitioning out of prison, are scarce. Notably, Congress banned Pell Grant eligibility for people in prison in 1994. TTEF will help those who face these struggles by providing them with funding and mentors in support of their education.
  • Recidivism rates are significantly lower for people who pursue an education, particularly a college-level education. For example, the national rate of re-incarceration across the United States is 43%, but 0% of inmates who completed the Hudson Link college education program offered in New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility returned to prison. The documentary film “Zero Percent,” profiling Hudson Link, is an inspiring portrayal of what a strong educational program for inmates can accomplish. Of course, the tax savings when people do not return prison are significant, but just as important is the strengthening of communities when former inmates return as educated individuals who are able to raise strong families and be solid neighbors.
  • Providing educational opportunities to prisoners creates economic benefits for everyone. In Rhode Island, it costs $49,133 per year to incarcerate one person. By supporting those who pursue an education, Rhode Islanders will be able to shift resources from incarceration to other pressing needs. Moreover, educated individuals are more likely to obtain gainful employment, which is particularly challenging in a tough economy—and especially trying with a criminal record.

From just these three reasons, among many more, supporting TTEF’s work is clearly a win-win proposition.

We also have personal reasons for establishing TTEF. We all began our respective educational journeys inside of prison. Therefore, we know and understand the transformative powers of education first-hand. Because of our education, today we find ourselves fortunate to be in the position to pay it forward. We are excited to do so, and encourage you to join us.

In the beginning, our goals will be modest. We will give between one and three scholarships, worth up to $1,000 dollars each, to Rhode Island inmates or recently released inmates pursuing a higher education. We will also provide support services to our scholars to help them chart their own educational journey. As our resources increase, our scholarships and services will also increase. To that end, we encourage you to visit our website and make a tax-deductible donation at www.transcendingthrougheducation.org.

We are currently recruiting other candidates to our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, and we will introduce them shortly.

Please subscribe to our blog to get important updates. On here, we will highlight personal stories, policy initiatives, and economic data that relate to our vision and mission of supporting the education of inmates and former inmates. We will also discuss education for underprivileged men and women in the United States more broadly. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

We hope you will support this project and join the discussion. Regardless of one’s views on the criminal justice and education systems, we firmly believe that our end goals are the same: better educated citizens means a better society for everyone.

We invite you to visit our website at www.transcendingthrougheducation.org to learn more about TTEF. You may contact us at info@transcendingthrougheducation.org.

Best,

Andres Idarraga, President

Noah Kilroy, Secretary

Bruce Reilly, Treasurer