Eighteen former prisoners who earned associate's, bachelor's and graduate degrees through a program for ex-inmates will be honored today at the City University of New York's Graduate Center, says the New York Times. The program, run by the College and Community Fellowship, a nonprofit social service organization, helps ex-convicts complete college by providing academic counseling, tutoring, and mentoring, helping to shape leadership qualities in people who were once on the margins of society.
The program is not a free pass through college, said the organization's executive director, Vivian Nixon. “Seventy-five percent of our students have part-time or full-time jobs,” she said. City University of New York’s Graduate Center provides space rent-free for the program, which is privately financed through grants from foundations. In the program's seven years of existence, 74 former prisoners, mostly single mothers, have graduated. Not one of them has ended up back behind bars. “It's an opportunity for higher education,” Nixon said. “Just a high school diploma is not going to get you a job to feed your family.” The program was created for women only, but has gradually allowed some men to join.