DECATUR, Ga.—The Georgia State University Prison Education Project (GSUPEP) has been awarded a 3-year, $300,000 grant from The Georgia Power Foundation to support the development and expansion of several initiatives within the project.
The investment will support:
- The initiation of a new instructional program at GSUPEP at the United States Federal Penitentiary (USP) in Atlanta
- The expansion of the existing GSUPEP Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice courses and,
- New programming for a proposed Returning Citizens Center at Georgia State’s Perimeter College.
Currently, GSUPEP supports for-credit and non-credit college coursework for almost 100 incarcerated students at Phillips State Prison in Buford, Ga., and Walker State Prison in Rock Spring, Ga, plus pre-college enrichment courses in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities across the state.
The goal of GSUPEP is to enable incarcerated students to obtain an associate degree and continue their education.
“With this investment from The Georgia Power Foundation, GSUPEP will be able to develop a new instructional program at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary,” said Patrick Rodriguez, GSUPEP interim director.
“This program will provide quality self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming educated law-abiding citizens, which is a focal point of our mission statement,” said Ray Coleman, Supervisor of Education at USP Atlanta. “It also showcases the hard work and passion of the teachers here at USP Atlanta, who have motivated and prepared these individuals for collegiate careers. Collectively, it effectively reduces the risk of recidivism and that is a “win” for us all,” Coleman said.
The Georgia Power Foundation grant also will fund a new program of for-credit entry-level college online courses in English and math at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.
“This expansion of the GSUPEP programs means that more incarcerated individuals in the state of Georgia will be given access to a college education and a potential path to self-sufficiency, agency and empowerment,” said Rodriguez. “It also will place Georgia State University as the only university in the nation to offer for-credit courses in prisons at the juvenile, state and federal level.”
In addition to the U.S. Federal Penitentiary classes and Department of Juvenile Justice courses, the grant will help GSUPEP fund the creation of a Returning Citizens Center (RCC). The center will be a place for formerly incarcerated students and their families interested in returning to college or attending college for the first time.
“The RCC will offer programming both on and off-campus, partnering with the university's Office of Career Services [for career-related resources], Georgia State University's College of Law to provide workshops on finding legal support to help them navigate community supervision, and with the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies to engage students in important policy discussions and work about the criminal legal system. In addition, the RCC will provide programming that addresses support for student mental and physical health needs,” Rodriguez said.
“We are so grateful to The Georgia Power Foundation for their generous investment in GSUPEP, which will help us continue to use education as a bridge to a brighter future for those we serve,” Rodriguez said. “Access to higher education benefits these students and their families, friends and communities.”