Pell Grant to Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative will expand programs

Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI) will use a new Second Chance Pell grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to bolster existing programs and launch a new Bachelor of Liberal Arts program at the Patuxent Institution in Maryland. 

The Department of Education on April 24 announced the expansion of its Second-Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, which currently includes 63 colleges spanning 26 states.

The department invited 67 additional colleges and universities—including Georgetown University—to participate, bringing the program to 16 additional states and Washington, D.C.

Expanding PJI’s presence

The grant will provide $6,345 for every full-time student in PJI’s Prison Scholars Program at the DC Jail. PJI launched the Prison Scholar Program in January 2018 and later that year, with the support of the School of Continuing Studies, launched credit-bearing courses for scholars at the DC Jail.

“Georgetown has been committed to teaching in prisons in one way or another for almost 40 years,” says Joshua Miller, director of education for the Prison Scholars Program. “The new Pell grant, along with our $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will allow us to ensure that commitment for years to come, with a bachelor’s degree and an expanded footprint in Maryland.”

Related: Georgetown Prison Scholars Program receives $1M Mellon Foundation grant >

PJI leaders hope to launch the new Patuxent Institution program in Maryland in January 2021, enrolling four cohorts of 20 to 25 students to eventually reach around 80-100 students. The expansion will allow PJI to “create a thriving educational community and culture of scholars who embody Georgetown’s values and ideals,” says PJI Director Marc Howard. “Over time, we also hope to expand into additional facilities in Maryland and Virginia.”

“There are millions of people behind bars in America who would not be incarcerated in most of the world,” Miller says. “This includes generations of should-have-been undergraduates who have never had the chance to be that first-year student in a philosophy class or to write that senior thesis on trade policy.”

“Georgetown is committed to educating the next generation of formerly incarcerated leaders who will help to reverse the policies that trapped them,” he adds.

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