Ready for Pell Announces 22 New Grant Partners, Representing Diverse Postsecondary Education in Prison Programs | Ascendium Education Group, Inc. Skip to main content


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Ready for Pell Announces 22 New Grant Partners, Representing Diverse Postsecondary Education in Prison Programs

February 15, 2022 2-minute read

Ascendium and Jobs for the Future (JFF) are pleased to announce 22 new grant partners for Ascendium’s $4.7 million Ready for Pell postsecondary education in prison initiative. Ready for Pell seeks to strengthen and refine new and existing postsecondary education in prison programs ahead of the restoration of Pell Grants for incarcerated learners in the 2023-24 school year. Grant partners represent a diverse mix of programs in terms of geography, institution type, program type, populations served and other markers.

Ready for Pell lies just outside Ascendium’s defined strategy of systems change because it directly funds the launch of new programs and the refinement existing ones. But the reintroduction of Pell Grants for incarcerated learners presents a unique moment in time for the field. Ascendium believes it’s imperative that new programs be created and existing ones refined based on evidence-based best practices, rather than having programs waste time and money re-learning hard lessons at the expense of incarcerated learners.

Ready for Pell builds on an earlier Ascendium grant, Unlocking the Promise of Pell for Students in Prison, which supported the Vera Institute in providing technical assistance to programs in the federal Second Chance Pell pilot program. “We thought it was tremendously important for us to flex just slightly outside the bounds of our grantmaking strategy to really meet this moment,” said Rebecca Villarreal, Ascendium’s director - education grantmaking and acting program officer for this focus area. “We've learned a lot from Second Chance Pell experimental sites and really wanted to expand the number of programs, colleges, universities and states preparing for the complexity of administering Pell in a carceral setting.”

Ascendium and JFF also are pleased to announce two more Ready for Pell partners. RTI International has been chosen as evaluator for the initiative to distill and share findings about implementation and impact from grantees with the field. The Council of State Governments and the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network will be technical assistance partners, supporting grant partners as they build and refine their programs. Following are the grant partners and their locations.

  • Amarillo College (Amarillo, TX)
  • Arkansas Community Colleges System (Little Rock, AR)
  • Arkansas Northeastern College (Blytheville, AR)
  • Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (Boston, MA)
  • California State University, San Bernardino (San Bernardino, CA)
  • College Unbound (Providence, RI)
  • Des Moines Area Community College (Des Moines, IA)
  • Herkimer County Community College (Herkimer, NY)
  • Hope-Western Prison Education Program (Muskegon, MI)
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Moraine Park Technical College (Fond du Lac, WI)
  • Northeast Mississippi Community College (Booneville, MS)
  • The Pennsylvania State University, Restorative Justice Initiative (University Park, PA)
  • Portland State University, Higher Education in Prison Program (Portland, OR)
  • Research Foundation for the State University of New York (Albany, NY)
  • San Antonio College (San Antonio, TX) 
  • Sinclair Community College (Dayton, OH)
  • South Louisiana Community College (Lafayette, LA)
  • Tufts University (Medford, MA)
  • Tulane University - College in Prison Program, Operation Restoration (New Orleans, LA)
  • University at Buffalo, SUNY (Buffalo, NY)
  • University of New Haven (New Haven, CT)