Wesleyan Center for Prison Education
Re-entry Fund

ABOUT THE CPE

Since 2009, Wesleyan University’s Center for Prison Education has offered college courses to incarcerated students in Connecticut state prisons. Through our program, students at York CI and Cheshire CI can complete rigorous coursework in pursuit of an Associate degree through our public partner, Middlesex Community College, and subsequently a Wesleyan Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies. Many of our students will complete their degrees while incarcerated. However, for those people who leave prison before earning a credential, CPE is committed to supporting their successful transition and degree completion.

ABOUT THE REENTRY FUND

Since our program began, over sixty students have been released and rejoined their communities. In the last year alone, ten program alumni have come home to a landscape drastically altered by the coronavirus pandemic. As of November 2020, between five and ten others are preparing to come home within the next few years. People in re-entry face considerable challenges in the best of times, and often experience difficulty meeting material needs like finding employment and securing housing. These difficulties have only been compounded during the pandemic, which has imposed new losses of income and further restricted access to essential resources. We are establishing the Re-Entry Fund to help all of our former students meet their short-term needs and ultimately support their pursuit of long-term goals.

ABOUT THE FUND

Re-entry support for people returning from prison across the state of Connecticut is frequently siloed by program area (i.e., employment, housing, transportation, health and wellness), and resources are distributed unevenly among municipalities and correctional facilities. In addition, people coming home navigate a patchwork of service providers, public infrastructure, and community support to meet their emergent and on-going needs.

While we recognize that CPE’s primary mandate is to provide degree-bearing access to a college education, we also understand that a complete postsecondary experience must include a more holistic approach to supporting our students on both sides of prison walls. As the rate at which our students are released continues to increase, we establish this Fund to expand the personal approach that has characterized our program. People transitioning home face diverse and manifold challenges and opportunities, and the flexibility of the Fund allows CPE to assist students on a case-by-case basis.

WHAT WE COVER

In consultation with program alumni, who have generously shared their experiences of reentry with us, we have developed the following funding criteria. In order to meet non-recurring costs not easily covered by existing programs or infrastructure, CPE's Re-entry Fund will provide means to any former CPE students upon application to support costs which may include:

  • School entrance fees

  • School supplies

  • Technology (computer, phone)

  • Transportation assistance

  • Initial move-in costs

  • Interview clothing

  • Licensing fees

  • Job training program costs

WHAT WE DON'T COVER

  • Cost-of-living expenses (monthly rent, monthly groceries, utilities)

  • Medical expenses

  • Tuition

APPLYING TO THE FUND

Before you apply to the fund, please review the following guidelines:

  • This Fund is restricted to CPE alumni only. That said, any person who participated in CPE while incarcerated can submit an application: there is no minimum semester participation requirement, and you are eligible to apply regardless of how long you have been home.

  • Please bear in mind that we do NOT cover cost-of-living expenses such as monthly rent, monthly groceries, utilities, medical bills, or full tuition.

  • Requests at or under $200, plus school-related tech expenses (for example, laptops) will be reviewed on a rolling/ongoing basis. Requests over $200 will be reviewed on a quarterly basis. Our first quarterly review will take place in the third week of May 2021.

  • As this is our first attempt at administering this kind of project, each individual award will be capped at $1000 for the first year. There is no limit on how many times a student can apply to the Fund.

  • Reach out to Program Manager Allie Cislo at [email protected] with any questions, comments, or concerns. Thank you!

WAYS TO GIVE

By contributing to the Re-Entry fund, you are helping the CPE fulfill its promise to support our students both inside and outside of prison walls. Your donation of any amount will have a direct and significant impact on a student's life. If you are not able to contribute financially, please help us support this important cause by spreading the word. Follow us on Instagram and share the fund with those in your network!