MONTPELIER, Vt. — Community College of Vermont (CCV) has been selected as a new Second Chance Pell school by the U.S. Department of Education. CCV is one of just three institutions in New England chosen to be part of the latest expansion of the program.

In all, 67 colleges and universities nationwide were chosen to expand the Second Chance Pell experiment, which provides Federal Pell Grants to students who are incarcerated in federal and state prisons. According to data published by the Rand Corporation, correctional education programs can reduce recidivism rates by as much as 43%.

The Second Chance Pell experiment is a natural extension of CCV’s efforts to expand access to college for incarcerated Vermonters. Since 2017, CCV has partnered with the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation to offer ReSET VT, a Prison-to-Career pathway for inmates at Newport’s Northern State Correctional Facility. The program provides college courses and career preparation, with the goal of reducing Vermont’s recidivism rate by helping students build credit toward a postsecondary credential, cultivate career skills and prepare for employment upon release from prison.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Baker acknowledged the Department’s ongoing collaboration with CCV. “VDOC is very excited that CCV has been awarded the Second Chance Pell. CCV has been a wonderful partner in providing education opportunities to incarcerated students at Northern State Correctional Facility, a supportive member in the Adult Reentry and Employment Strategic Planning grant and an active member of the Corrections Education Advisory Board. We look forward to our continued work together.”

Historically, incarcerated individuals were eligible for federal student aid from 1965 until 1994. The Second Chance program was enacted in 2015. Since then, nearly 12,000 inmates have received grants, and nearly 4,000 credentials have been awarded, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, a long-time champion of access to higher education within the criminal justice system, congratulated CCV. “Pell Grants can be an extremely important resource for successful re-entry into society, and it is long past time that we remove barriers to postsecondary education so that all students have access to fulfilling careers. I am proud that CCV will be providing quality education for many incarcerated Vermonters—this is the kind of work we must do to reform our broken criminal justice system.”

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