10/22, With Female Incarceration On The Rise, Formerly Incarcerated Women Challenge Stigma With New #MyDoOver Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2015

Contact: Liz Holliday, CCF Communications Associate, 646-380-7783; eholliday@collegeandcommunity.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.”

CCF has been helping women achieve their do overs for fifteen years – and have proven that education is a powerful tool for creating second chances. The national recidivism rate, in which a formerly incarcerated person returns to prison within three years, is 67.8 percent according to the National Institute of Justice; but the recidivism rate for CCF students is just 2% since its founding in 2000.

“CCF is in the business of do overs,” Nixon said. “In 15 years, we’ve helped our students achieve more than 300 college degrees, and 100% of CCF alumnae report earning higher wages after completing a degree. We are proof that higher education has the potential to transform lives.”

Diana Lopez, one of the #MyDoOver campaign’s three featured students, says that thanks to CCF, she was able to go back to school and find a renewed hope of getting her job back, despite having a drug conviction on her record.

“My do over was when I realized my conviction wouldn’t stop me from becoming a nurse again,” Lopez said. “CCF helped me get my life back.”

Amy Stone, another CCF student, says after battling addiction, CCF helped her finally be conscious about the choices she makes. Now a student at Lehman College, she is working toward a Bachelor’s degree in social work and is scheduled to graduate in May.

“My do over was when I realized that my felony conviction wasn’t standing in my way—it was my lack of education,” Stone said. “CCF helped with that.”

The awareness campaign aims to have participants take a picture of themselves holding their “do overs” and share it online using the hashtag #MyDoOver, making sure to link back to the campaign website www.WhatsYourDoOver.com.

Participate in CCF’s #MyDoOver Campaign today, and be sure to link it to www.whatsyourdoover.com

Read Diana’s do over story here; Read Amy’s do over story here.

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College and Community Fellowship (CCF) is a community-based organization founded in 2000 that is dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated women earn their college degrees as a path to self-sufficiency and economic stability. CCF places education at the center of sustainable reentry efforts, working with formerly criminal justice involved students until they have completed their degrees. It provides academic support, social coaching, career development, and helps justice-involved women navigate higher education while also supporting them through the reentry process. To date, CCF has helped formerly incarcerated students earn more than 300 degrees.

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