Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) has resumed offering credit courses to incarcerated individuals as part of a federal pilot program known as “Second Chance Pell.” In 2016, Asnuntuck was one of sixty-seven schools selected nationwide by the White House to participate in this program. Second Chance Pell was forced to pause last year due to COVID because Asnuntuck instructors were not allowed to enter the correctional facilities to teach their courses.
Asnuntuck was recently awarded more than $45,000 in grant funding from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The funds are designated to improve community college completion for low-income Black and Latinx students. A portion of those funds have been designated for the college’s Second Chance Program. Asnuntuck will pivot to a live remote program for the incarcerated individuals, and these grant funds have assisted with the transition.
“Asnuntuck Community College would like to commend the Connecticut Department of Correction and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for the assistance that they have provided, so we can bring remote learning to the incarcerated individuals,” said Interim CEO of Asnuntuck Community College Dr. Michelle Coach. She added, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to halt courses, and the restarting of courses in a live, remote manner allows us to educate our students again. We are thankful for the collaboration and united vision for this program.”
Asnuntuck educates students incarcerated at Osborn CI (Correction Institute), Carl Robinson CI, Willard Cybulski CI and MacDougall CI. LED flat screen TVs, web cameras and Dell computers (with restricted access), purchased with the grant funds, will allow students to complete their classwork and have a remote class experience with an Asnuntuck instructor. As part of the Second Chance Pell Grant program partnership, the Department of Correction also invested in technology and equipment, as well as the installation of infrastructure necessary to create the virtual classrooms. Students currently enrolled in the program are enrolled in an Art Appreciation class which began on March 22nd.
“This is great news,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros. “Thanks to the collaborative effort among the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Asnuntuck Community College and the Department of Correction, we are able to provide educational opportunities to individuals under our supervision in support of our goal of successful reintegration.”
This initiative seeks to equip incarcerated individuals with job skills necessary to become contributing members of society upon their release. The program provides federally funded Pell Grants to eligible incarcerated students who are within 10 years of completing their sentences.
“The Hartford Foundation is pleased to partner with Asnuntuck for the benefit of incarcerated students in the Enfield area. We see improving access to education and future employment opportunities as a priority in our mission to contribute to dismantling structural and systemic racism and achieving equity in social and economic mobility in Greater Hartford” said Megan Burke, Director of Community Impact Grantmaking at the Hartford Foundation.
To be eligible, potential students must demonstrate excellent behavior and meet all academic and financial requirements. Incarcerated individuals enrolled in the program must qualify and fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as other students enrolled in college must do. This program is funded through Federal Pell dollars earmarked for this population, and it is not taking away resources from Connecticut students.
Asnuntuck is one of four community colleges within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system participating in the Second Chance Pell Program. Since the inception of the program, Asnuntuck has had 659 students enrolled in the program.