Building excellence for incarcerated / formerly incarcerated students

Kellie Nadler | Deputy Director, Renewing Communities

Nearly 300 people gathered this past Thusday and Friday for a statewide summit on building excellence for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students, organized by the Opportunity Institute and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. 

This was an unprecedented event that featured formerly incarcerated student leaders, community college presidents, and a wide array of employees from our state’s public colleges and universities. Participants represented more than 70 colleges and universities, corrections agencies, and community leaders, all striving to build higher education access and success for these students.

Although California leads the nation in using public higher education to address mass incarceration, we gathered not as a celebration but as a group of professionals devoted to building the field through innovative problem-solving. 

The two-day event allowed practitioners and students to work through frequently raised challenges including faculty selection and secondary trauma for programs teaching inside correctional facilities, the power of unlikely partnerships between probation or parole and public colleges, and what it means to use data to measure and track program success.

Events like these foster the discussions and connections that change systems and hearts, and we feel endlessly fortunate to be doing this work alongside such strong colleagues.

Thank you to our attendees, our presenters, and speakers, and thank you most of all to our incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students and graduates. Without your voices leading the charge, our work would carry little meaning.