Back to the Community, Back to School

Hello and happy Tuesday, blog world!

We hope that yesterday was a restful and relaxing day for all of you—and a chance to reflect on the life and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., and how each of us can set goals this year to help make his vision of a more equal and just world a reality.

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In that vein, today we wanted to share an incredible resource that we’ve come across in our research: Back to School: A Guide to Continuing Your Education after Prison. This guide, by the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College in 2010, is a wonderful resource and should be shared with advocates, community based organizations, government agencies, probation and parole offices, corrections departments, and of course, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

Why do we love it so much? First, the information applies nationally—to all people leaving state prison across the U.S. who want to continue their education. Second, this guide is for people at all levels of education—people who want to get their GED and people who want to pursue a PhD, and everyone in between, with information about how to pursue each point in education, including vocational training. Third, it is written in PLAIN ENGLISH! No legalese, no academic speak, just plain language that is digestible and makes complicated topics and systems actually understandable.

Lastly, the substance of the guide is incredible, because it explains not just roadblocks in education and how to get around them, but acknowledges that there are many other areas of civil life that require support before and along with pursuing an education—a holistic approach. There is information on how to get a state ID, a driver’s license, a Social Security card, a copy of a RAP sheet/ criminal record, and the like. There is also great information on the financial aid system, how to apply for student loans, and the ban on financial aid for people with drug convictions. The guide even includes a glossary of helpful documents and information, including a weekly schedule to help people organize their time and plan wisely and a sample resume.

This guide was extremely helpful to us in understanding how to assist folks in reentry who want to get back to school. We hope you will use it as a resource and share it widely.

—The R & R Team

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