NEW YORK – The Board of Trustees at the largest comprehensive public university system in the nation voted today to give potential students with criminal histories a second chance by moving its criminal history check box off of its current application process. The move comes after the Board of Trustees heard public testimony from formerly incarcerated students and advocates in May, organized by the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), to explain what barriers “the box” presents for applicants with criminal justice histories.
Momentum has been building across New York State toward Banning the Box in higher education for years. Most recently, hundreds of students spent the spring rallying to make change at NYU, and SUNY campuses. The ground work was laid for these efforts as far back as 2010 by one of EIO’s leadership members, the Center for Community Alternatives. It was this research, along with an updated EIO and CCA 2015 report called “Boxed Out,” that laid the ground work for the federal guidance encouraging colleges and universities to go Beyond the Box. These new guidelines were announced in May by US Education Secretary John King, and both EIO Co-Founder Vivian Nixon and EIO leadership member Marsha Weissman were invited to the press conference at UCLA’s campus for the reveal. After its release, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher released a statement commending the move.
“I myself, was boxed out of SUNY Old Westbury when I reapplied to college after getting out of prison, and I am so happy to hear SUNY finally realized that we shouldn’t stop or deter anyone from bettering their life with education,” said Vivian Nixon, EIO’s Co-Founder, and Executive Director for College & Community Fellowship, a non-profit that helps formerly incarcerated women achieve a higher education. “I was able to finish my degree at SUNY Empire where I had completed a few courses prior to incarceration, and thus could return without reapplying. Others aren’t as lucky. I was so proud to represent EIO next to US Secretary of Education John King when he urged U.S. Universities and Colleges to look Beyond the Box back in May, and even prouder that SUNY has listened to our voices, our experiences, and will now give every potential student a chance to transform their lives with education.”
The 2015 study conducted by EIO and CCA showed that nearly two-thirds (62.5%) of SUNY applicants who disclose a prior felony conviction never complete their applications, compared to 21% of applicants with no criminal history across all of its 64 campuses. The study attributed the number to a “chilling effect” caused by a fear of stigma, and a set of complicated, and sometimes impossible, set of supplemental requirements once the box was checked.
“The research doesn’t lie. There is no empirical evidence that having a criminal history question on an application makes a campus any safer,” said Alan Rosenthal, Advisor on Special Projects for the Center for Community Alternatives, an organization dedicated to ending mass incarceration and mass criminalization. “The bottom-line is that this ‘box’ does nothing but deter qualified applicants in desperate need of a second chance. People who attend college are less likely to have further involvement in the criminal justice system, thus making our communities safer. EIO is proud that SUNY has decided to pave the way for other universities across the country who are still asking this harmful question of its applicants, under the false assumption that it keeps a campus safe.”
The Education from the Inside Out Coalition helped write proposed legislation currently in committees of both houses of the New York State Legislature. The Fair Access to Education Bill (S969/A3363) would make it illegal for colleges and universities to ask an applicant whether they have been previously convicted of a criminal offense. EIO is hopeful SUNY’s decision to “move the box” will spur action on the issue and lawmakers will finally pass legislation to ensure every college and university in New York State bans the box in higher education.
“Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution, and EIO applauds SUNY for listening to our EIO members’ firsthand experiences with the box,” said Glenn E. Martin, Co-Founder of EIO and President of JustLeadership USA, which aims to cut the prison population in half by 2030. “We can only hope the news encourages lawmakers to pass current proposed legislation in New York State, which will permanently ban the box once and for all. Education is the key to building stronger communities, families, and future leaders in this country; nowhere should a person’s past solely define their self-worth or future.”
Details: August 24th, 2016 from 11am-4pm Adam Clayton Powell Plaza (163 W 125th Street, New York, NY 10027)
Mark your calendars, because CCF’s Back to School Block Party is back! Join us and our community partners for a day of games, food, giveaways, performances, information tables and more!
Join us August 9th at 2PM EST for an online conversation about #WomenInPrison, Reentry, and change. Follow us on Twitter at @ccf_ny, and follow the hashtag #WomenInPrison on August 9th at 2PM EST to join in on the conversation!
Register today, by clicking here.
Presented by the Aspen Institute in partnership with The Atlantic magazine, the Aspen Ideas Festival is the nation’s premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to present and discuss the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times.
Vivian Nixon participated in several break-out sessions on economic opportunities, the state of female incarceration, and so much more. Read more...
“We want people directly impacted to have a say in how you fix this problem,” said Vivian Nixon at the Reimagining Prisons kick off event on June 20th in Philadelphia.
We are in an historic time, where de-carceration is on the national agenda in response to decades of growth in the numbers of people incarcerated. The momentum to end mass incarceration also provides a parallel opportunity to look at the fundamental questions of the purpose and goals of incarceration, and the values that underlie its use.
That’s why Vera is embarking on Reimagining Prison, an 18-month initiative that will seek to arrive at answers to these questions and shape an actionable new vision for the decades to come. Can we place human dignity at the operational and philosophical core of corrections, as other countries do? Are we ready to shift the goal and culture of incarceration from retribution to rehabilitation, and promote transparency and safety as guiding principles? Read more...
WASHINGTON D.C.- On Tuesday, June 14th CCF’s Executive Director Vivian Nixon will participate in the first ever United State Of Women Summit at the White House, Co-hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah.
The White House Council on Women and Girls is convening the summit, a large-scale effort to rally together advocates of gender equality to highlight what we’ve achieved, identify the challenges that remain, and chart the course for addressing them. Experts, advocates, and grassroots and business leaders who work in both domestic and international arenas will gather to highlight key issues affecting women and girls.
Vivian Nixon will be speaking on a panel entitled, “Second Chances for Success: Women, girls, and the justice system,” from 2:50pm-3:50pm Tuesday, June 14th.
The panel itself will be moderated by Broadcast Journalist Soledad O’Brien, and includes:
Piper Kerman, Author of Orange Is The New Black
Judge Catherine Pratt, Los Angeles Superior Court STAR Court
Brenda Smith, Professor, American University, Washington College of Law
Andrea James, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship
Sue Ellen Allen, Author, Speaker, Activist and Ex-inmate, Global REINVENTION
More information on the summit is available at www.theunitedstateofwomen.org.
Live stream the panel at 2:50PM EST by clicking here.
See who else will be attending by clicking here!
13 Women Who Overcame Incredible Obstacles have Earned Masters, Bachelors, and Associates Degrees with Help of College & Community Fellowship
Melissa Harris-Perry, Political Analyst and Educator, Addresses Graduates During Keynote Speech
NEW YORK – Thirteen formerly incarcerated women were honored Thursday at College & Community Fellowship’s (CCF) 16th annual graduation celebration in Manhattan. The four Masters degree recipients, eight Bachelors degree recipients, and one Associates degree recipient earned their diplomas this year from institutions such as Lehman College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Fordham University – all with the help of CCF, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women who had contact with the criminal justice system earn college degrees.
Each graduate overcame incredible obstacles to get from prison uniforms to caps and gowns. More than two-thirds of incarcerated people are re-arrested within three years of release – but to date, the women helped by CCF have earned more than 300 degrees, and less than 2% have gone back to prison in the organization’s 16 years of operation. Read more...
Getting out of prison is hard enough…ConnectED could make finding vital educational resources in your community a little easier, but ONLY with your help!
College and Community Fellowship’s Executive Director Vivian Nixon has been invited to submit an idea to the 2016 Aspen Ideas Festival this June. If chosen, Vivian will receive funding to create her ConnectED app, which will make transitioning back into school and life after prison a little easier for every New Yorker.
ConnectEd is a proposed smartphone and tablet application that aims to compile and map reentry education resources in NYC to help those coming out of prison access educational services ranging from high school-level classes to college graduation and more. The app could be downloaded onto tablets used by currently incarcerated people to help plan for reentry, and would be designed to be scaleable: once the NYC version is proven successful, we can create apps customized for other locations.
A great and necessary idea, but it faces stiff competition from hundreds of other innovative submissions from around the world, which is why we need your help!
Follow the instructions below, and please vote for the ConnectEd App! The deadline to vote is next Monday, May 23rd, 2016–so vote today!
How To Vote:
Step One: Register.Click this link and create an account. Be sure to fill out that you are signing up for Festival 1.
Step Two: Find the ConnectEd App. Click this link to view Vivian’s idea.
Step Three: Vote! Voting is as simple as clicking the amount of stars you wish to give Vivian for her project. We hope you also think this is a 5 star idea.
“Education is key on the front end & back end of the criminal justice system” – CCF’s Executive Director Vivian Nixon speaking at the #ReturnProject screening at New America NYC. (Photo by Jill Poklemba)
On Monday, May 9th CCF’s Executive Director flew to Los Angeles to participate in the US Department of Education’s launch of it’s “Beyond the Box” guidelines.
The guide provides information for colleges and universities to help remove barriers that can prevent the estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records from pursuing higher education.
The move is monumental for CCF’s work with the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, and its concept was born out of CCF’s Just Change conference in December, in which members from the DOE and other federal agencies met with formerly incarcerated advocates to speak about criminal justice reform.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our donors, fellows, alumna, and staff who continue to support us in our efforts to remove all barriers to higher education for individuals with criminal justice involvement. We couldn’t have done this without you. #BanTheBox! #HigherEd4all!
Monday, April 25th, 1pm-2pm-Hebert Auditorium, Quinsigamond Community College (QCC), 670 West Boylston Street, Worcester, MA 01606 FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
Come see Vivian Nixon perform/speak LIVE at the Museum of Drug Policy. Grab FREE tickets here. https://cards.twitter.com/cards/g9u82/1ngtq #StopTheHarm
To RSVP email@example.com
THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 29, 2016
White House to Host Women and the Criminal Justice System Convening
Wednesday, March 30 the White House will host a convening on Women and the Criminal Justice System. In honor of Women’s History Month and in the lead up to the United State of Women Summit, this event will bring together justice-involved women and girls, family members of incarcerated individuals, women serving in law enforcement and other leading advocates for a more equitable and effective justice system. The event will also provide a collaborative environment to discuss and share ideas on ways to improve women’s access to justice in the community, courtroom and cell block. Read more...
On March 28th, 2016 CCF welcomed Valerie Goodlow and her family to help screen her documentary Gang Girl: A mother’s journey to save her daughter. The family answered questions from the audience after the screening.
To donate to Ms. Goodlow’s non-profit WINDOW (Women In Need Of Discovering Own Worth) visit: https://www.gofundme.com/
CCF welcomed nurse Alicia Pearsall to our March Community to talk about heart health, and to offer free one-on-one blood pressure testing. CCF’s Academic Counselor Lettisha Boyd also offered fitness tips to students:
On Friday, a Harlem-based group of formerly incarcerated women will share their stories with the likes of legendary activist Angela Davis and Empire actor Malik Yoba, in an inspired way—through theater.
The theater troupe will perform original works based on their experiences with the criminal justice system for attendees of Columbia University’s Beyond the Bars Conference. The conference, now in its sixth year, aims to explore the impact of mass incarceration for communities nationwide.
Communities and individuals who have been directly impacted by mass incarceration have the most knowledge when it comes to reforming the criminal justice system. Their experiences and stories can become the bedrock of public policy that can end the era of mass incarceration.
The Northeast regional convening is an opportunity for formerly incarcerated thought leaders to come together and speak to and strategize with officials from the Federal Government. Together we will create solutions to repair communities harmed by years of tough on crime public policy.
Join us a for a day of townhall discussions on this important civil rights issue.
In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo stood before leaders of the Black and Latino caucus and declared that state funds would be allocated to create additional in-person college programs. Now, almost two years later, nother has changed. Demand that Cuomo keep his promise to help end mass incarceration and fund post-secondary correctional education in this year’s budget.
CCF joins it’s advocacy arm EIO to take the fight to the Governor.
Date: December 4th, 11AM; start point: corner of Bryant Park 41st & 6thAve
The Eleanor Roosevelt Lecture Series was created in 2004 to honor Eleanor Roosevelt’s commitment to social justice and her important place in women’s history. First Lady and U.N. Ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt served on Brandeis University’s Board of Trustees from 1949 until her death in 1962 and was Visiting Lecturer of International Relations from 1959 to 1962. She gave the University’s first commencement address in 1952, receiving an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters in 1954.
College and Community Fellowship’s Theater for Social Change will offer a performance titled, “The Letters Behind My Name,” directed by Elizabeth Mirarchi. Based in Harlem this group “uses theater to raise awareness about the impact of mass incarceration on women, families, and communities. TSC’s original performances are based on ensemble members’ life stories and experiences with the criminal justice system and as returning citizens, with a focus on eliminating barriers to higher education and advocating for reform.” More information including video clips is here: http://collegeandcommunity.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2015
Contact: Liz Holliday, CCF Communications Associate, 646-380-7783; firstname.lastname@example.org
With Female Incarceration On The Rise, Formerly Incarcerated Women Challenge Stigma With New #MyDoOver Campaign
College and Community Fellowship, a non-profit helping formerly incarcerated women achieve higher education, features inspiring stories at www.WhatsYourDoOver.com and invites others to share their second chances
(NEW YORK, October 22nd, 2015)—Every year, thousands of women are released from prison and faced with the often-daunting struggle of reentry. Despite a 646% increase in the number of women incarcerated over the past twenty-five years, according to the Sentencing Project, very few organizations exist that specifically cater their services to formerly incarcerated women.
“The fact is that female incarceration rates continue to rise in staggering numbers, and yet when we talk about mass incarceration, it is always from the perspective of a man,” said CCF’s Executive Director Vivian Nixon, herself a CCF alumna. “This campaign aims to reduce the stigma of female incarceration by showing that whether it’s a new job, new wife, maybe just a new start; everyone has had a do over in their life. Second chances aren’t unique to reentry.” Read more...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Liz Holliday, CCF Communications Associate, 646-380-7783; email@example.com
Non-profit that helps formerly incarcerated women achieve a higher education will honor its Founder, Barbara Martinsons, and the Ford Foundation
Event hosted by FOX 5’s Lisa Evers, with performances by award-winning former BET host Byronn Bain and CCF’s own Theater for Social Change
(NEW YORK, October 16th, 2015)—College and Community Fellowship (http://www.collegeandcommunity.org) will host its 15th Anniversary Benefit Gala, “15 years of Education and Innovation,” at Tribeca 360 in New York City on October 22nd at 6PM.
This year, CCF will present awards to two honorees: Barbara Martinsons, who created CCF in 2000 after seeing a need for educational support for formerly incarcerated women once they have reentered society; and the Ford Foundation, whose goal is to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. Read more...
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY
Contact: Liz Holliday, EIO Communications Associate, 646-380-7783, firstname.lastname@example.org
***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22***
Formerly Incarcerated New Yorkers and Advocates Rally to Restore In-Prison Education
Groups to call for reinstatement of Pell and TAP Grants for in-prison college programs, ahead of City Council hearing
Formerly incarcerated New Yorkers and criminal justice reform advocates will rally to restore higher education funding and grant eligibility to incarcerated students, ahead of a City Hall hearing on in-prison education reform on Tuesday, September 22. Council members organized the hearing in response to the Obama Administration’s plan to temporarily restore Pell Grant eligibility to a select group of incarcerated students. Read more...
With summer rapidly coming to a close, CCF is not letting go without a fight! Join us for our first ever Back to School Block Party August 17th from 10am to 2pm at Adam Clayton Powel Plaza, as we say farewell to summer and welcome in the school year with our heads held high!
Expect family fun for all ages, with games (hula hoop competition, spelling bees), activities (face painting and giveaways), performances (CCF’s very own Theater for Social Change) and more. In addition to the fun, we’ll have more than 20 tables set up for area non-profits. So grab your friends and family and save the date! It is sure to be a day of family fun, and networking too! Read more...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 16th, 2015 CONTACT: Liz Holliday, EIO Communications Associate, 646-380-7783
Education from the Inside Out Coalition Praises President Clinton for Admitting Past Mistakes; Citing Importance of In-Prison Education
New York – Today, the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO) applauds former president Bill Clinton for admitting his administration’s criminal justice policies were “wrong” and citing the need to reverse some of those policies – specifically around in-prison education. During a speech Wednesday, Clinton defended the intentions of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act by pointing to soaring crime rates, and a pressure to fix the problem. However he admitted the approach he chose was the wrong one, saying “I signed a bill that made the problem worse.” He said. “And I want to admit it.” Read more...
Join Us! Social Justice Happy Hour
Tomorrow the Education from the Inside Out Coalition will host its first Social Justice happy hour for activist, advocates, policy wonks and everyone in between. Please join us for an evening of networking, strategy sharing and tales of your best lobby meetings.
Use the link to RSVP
For Immediate Release
June 20th, 2015
Contact: Dionna King, Community Organizer, 443-312-9636
Activists hold radical pop-up classrooms in Brooklyn, Harlem protesting barriers to education
Education from the Inside Out Coalition and College and Community Fellowship calls education a “human right, not a privilege” Read more...
NEWS ADVISORY for Friday, June 12th
L’Oréal USA Hosts Career Readiness Workshop as Part of Annual Volunteer Day
Leading beauty company partners with College & Community Fellowship to offers career services and beauty workshop to unemployed and underemployed women Read more...
NEWS ADVISORY: June 4th 2015
CONTACT: Liz Holliday, (646) 380-7783
Women Changing the Face of the Formerly Incarcerated
NYC Nonprofit holds graduation ceremony honoring former criminal justice involved graduates
NYC – Fifteen women who have had previous criminal justice involvement, ranging from probation to convictions, will join together in a graduation ceremony honoring their educational achievements post-release. These graduates have earned degrees from various schools throughout New York State. However, the New York City based non-profit College and Community Fellowship (CCF), and host of the event, is an organization that has supported hundreds of women, earning 286 degrees since its creation in 2000. Read more...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WASHINGTON D.C. /NEW YORK, NY – US Representative Donna F. Edwards (MD-4), along with Reps. Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-3), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), and Cedric Richmond (LA-2), introduced the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act today, which aims to return access to Pell grants for qualified incarcerated individuals across the country.
A move the Education from the Inside Out Coalition says will decrease reliance on public assistance, increase employment rates, improve physical and mental health, not to mention strengthen communities in the process. Read more...
BENNINGTON, VT- The United States has the highest documented rate of incarceration in the world, a rate that has increased by 500 percent in the past 40 years. CCF Executive Director Vivian Nixon traveled to Bennington, VT on May 15-16 to particpate in Benninton College’s Incarceration in America initiative, in response to this crisis. Read more...
NEW YORK – A new report shows expanding access to college education for people in New York state prisons would not only benefit their health and well-being, but also their families, their communities, the prison environment, and ultimately all New Yorkers. The work by the Human Impact Partners and Education from the Inside Out Coalition is the first to focus exclusively on what health related impacts exist when currently incarcerated individuals have equal access to education, and has gained support from a collaboration of health, advocacy and criminal justice experts, as well as several New York State legislators.
“The sooner we realize that withholding access to education isn’t a punishment for the incarcerated individual, but a punishment for our society as a whole, the better off we will be.” said Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of the College and Community Fellowship. “It’s not enough to simply reduce the prison population. People need to come home to opportunities, and reinstating TAP funding eligibility to America’s incarcerated individuals will do exactly that.” Read more...
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – As events in Baltimore raise the nation’s consciousness about racism’s impacts on human relationships, systems, structures and communities, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) will hold its fourth America Healing Conference, bringing together more than 500 community-based leaders, civil rights advocates, academics and journalists from more than 350 organizations to discuss the ways our nation must come together to heal and work toward racial equity and justice for children and families. The conference will be held Monday, May 4, through Thursday, May 7, at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Read more...
Our CCF team traveled to Albany to lobby for the New York Reentry Roundtable as part of Community Service Society’s Albany Advocacy Day on May 5, 2015.
Our two teams met with a total of six legislators to address barriers faced by the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated as they re-enter the community. Read more...
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The College and Community Fellowship (CCF) is pleased to announce its Theater for Social Change (TSC) ensemble’s participation in the Wellesley Centers for Women lecture series “Moving Beyond the Carceral State: Identifying Alternative Pathways for Women and Girls” on Wednesday, April 15th. Read more...
This letter clarifies that students who are confined or incarcerated in locations that are not Federal or State penal institutions, such as juvenile justice facilities, and who otherwise meet applicable eligibility criteria, are eligible for Federal Pell Grants. Read more...
On June 12 2014, CCF had its 14th Annual Celebration of Graduates. We recognized 30 women who graduated from various degree programs at colleges and universities in the New York Metropolitan area in 2014. Both the reception and ceremony were inspiring!
Vivian Nixon, Co-Founder of the EIO Coalition, recognized for efforts to increase higher education access for justice involved students
(Albany, NY) – Today Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship and Co-founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition was honored by the New York State Senate as part of Women’s History Month. In a resolution introduced by Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Ms. Nixon was recognized for her commitment to access to higher education and opportunity, particularly for those who have had contact with the criminal justice system. The resolution recognizes her past and current efforts advocating on behalf of currently and formerly incarcerated individuals as well as her role as a community leader. Read more...