The Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College (TUPIT): Increasing access to higher education while we serve time and when we come home!
The MyTERN Program and how you can help
We teach and learn at Tufts that everyone should experience the excitement of profoundly transformative education that fosters personal growth. MyTERN has proven to be just that, a new 9-month Tufts University-accredited certificate program in Civic Studies that cultivates personal development and supports continuing education and increased employability, as well as a sense of belonging for and with people directly impacted by the criminal justice system who are no longer in prison.
A year ago, we crowdfunded for TUPIT’s new college and re-entry program to support our students coming home from prison and continuing their higher education through the Tufts Education Re-entry Network (TERN) program MyTERN.
It has been an incredible year for both the MyTERN students and the Tufts undergraduate and faculty co-learners!
Thanks to last year’s crowdfunding donations, we were able to provide each of the 8 MyTERN students with the opportunity to take 3 accredited courses at Tufts: Literatures of Justice; Intro to Coding; Personal Finance & Project Development and, with their new laptop, MyTERN students received extensive one-on-one tech support facilitating increased proficiency in basic computing, emails/texting, Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Google suite, and, of course, Zoom. But we are thrilled to say that although we zoomed in our numerous guest speakers, we held every class safely in-person and no one got sick. Not only that, but as you can hear from students in the video, we all learned a lot, worked hard, struggled, supported & challenged one another, and above all coalesced as an intentional community. And in the process, WE HAD A LOT OF FUN!
EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENTS --
1. The new MyTERN Conversations podcast emerged organically out of the program as a platform for amplifying the knowledge and perspectives of people impacted by incarceration. Season One will release in June.
2. Our students spoke publicly as the new MyTERN Mentors speakers bureau in two different events at Tufts University that were open to the wider Massachusetts community and drew heavily from the re-entry community. Over 100 people were in attendance at these symposia that included Tufts undergraduates as well.
3. Our students were invited to present MyTERN at a NATIONAL CONFERENCE! They spoke passionately and compellingly about education, re-entry, and justice in a national forum on Higher Education in Prison to over 100 experts in the field (National Conference for Higher Education in Prison 2021) and gained access to national networks of formerly incarcerated professionals, scholars, and leaders.
We are also proud to say that our MyTERN certificate program graduates all plan to continue their education, and several may even start at Tufts in the fall!
Now we need your help!
Your donations will support the success of a second cohort of students in MyTERN by helping us to cover the cost of:
- Books and Materials for classes
- Field trip costs: museums & art galleries, theater
- Laptops for our 10 new students (Yes, we are increasing the cohort size as promised last year!)
- Application fees for college and other continuing education and professional development opportunities
- Transportation stipends for MyTERN Mentors and for new directly impacted students.
- Emergency fund (green cards and other identification fees, food insecurity, rent and moving support, etc.)
People returning from prisons and jails face many challenges, including lack of employment and educational opportunities, psychological trauma, threatening economic stress, social isolation, and the lack of self-esteem that results from having been incarcerated. MyTERN employs a multi-pronged, trauma-informed and community-based approach to re-entry in this hybrid educational re-entry program called MyTERN that aims to:
- Engage people holistically by offering educational opportunities guided by a commitment to individual well-being
- Facilitate a healthy social network that mitigates the isolation often experienced by people directly impacted by the justice system
- Cultivate social-emotional, intellectual, and practical skills proven to be essential to strengthening one’s candidacy for meaningful employment and continued education
- Build students’ senses of individual purpose, self-efficacy, and self-worth, as well as community belonging and accountability, by fostering relationship-building skills
- Measure success not only in decreased recidivism rates but also in the increased health and wellness of people reentering society after incarceration.
MyTERN’s 4 Tufts-accredited courses
- Civic Studies: Literatures of Justice (Literature & History & Writing)
- Technology for Civic Impact (Computer Proficiency, Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Google, email + Podcasting & Public Speaking)
- Alternating Tufts course (Spring 2021: Financial Math and Coding Basics & Spring 2022: Introduction to Acting through Improvisation)
- Personal Finance and Project Development (entrepreneurship, business plans, grant and loan application support where helpful)
MyTERN's Re-entry Support
With the continued help of our community partners, and especially Project Place, student re-entry is supported through:
- securing identification
- opening bank accounts
- securing safe and affordable housing
- getting a driver’s permit and learning to drive
- reuniting with one’s family
- loving and experiencing romantic relationships in new ways
- working with parole and probation
- grieving after prison
- and, of course, redefining education and its role in our lives
Why support MyTERN, especially NOW?
- In the wake of COVID-19, people releasing from prison face a DECLINING JOB MARKET, FEWER SAFER HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES, and SOCIAL ISOLATION. Additionally, both MEDICAL AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES ARE FAR LESS ACCESSIBLE.
- In the United States, of the 7 million adults under some form of criminal justice supervision, including incarceration, probation, and parole (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011), 730,000 individuals are released from facilities annually (West, Sabol, & Greenman, 2010).
- People releasing face countless obstacles -- in housing, employment, mental and physical health, educational attainment, and the attainment of self-efficacy and self-confidence (Petersilia, 2003).
- As a result of these obstacles, 75% of people released from state prisons are reincarcerated within 5 years (Davis et al., 2013).
The success, talent, and drive we have seen in our current incarcerated students constantly reminds us of the power of education and the critical need for increased opportunity. Please donate today so that a cohort of people returning to society after serving their sentences will have the resources, expertise, and care that will help make success possible through this exciting and life-altering program.
We need your help now more than ever to support the SECOND MyTERN cohort!
WE ARE DEEPLY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THIS PROJECT!