The Center for Equity and Restorative Justice @ CU
Since its founding ten years ago, College Unbound has been a powerful force for equity and justice in Rhode Island. Through its unique curriculum and pedagogy, it has created new opportunities for those historically underserved adults to return to college, gain a degree and lead successful lives. It has supported incarcerated adult students inside the prison with college courses and walked with them through transition to the outside all the way to obtaining their college degree. Our highly individualized curriculum allows all our adult students to find their passion and create projects around it that are satisfying and motivating. College Unbound’s transformative education has changed the lives of its students, their families and their communities. College Unbound has an 80% graduation rate.
College Unbound’s Center for Equity and Restorative Justice brings together a range of existing programs, combining theory and practice to bring our learning to the larger community. All activities of the Center focus on bringing issues of equity to the community and repairing family and community relationships.
The Prison Education Program at College Unbound is designed to increase post-secondary graduation rates for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated adult learners looking to complete their bachelor’s degrees. The framework is rooted in our innovative interest-based/ project-based curriculum combining students' academic work with their passions and interests. CU integrates the students’ own purposes for learning with the needs of their communities, improving the lives of the students and the lives of those they touch. Students work through a-15 credit curriculum inside the prison with the support of CU mentors and professors. Once outside, students continue to receive support through a case manager, a gateway transition course, and enrollment in CU’s Bachelor Degree program.
The Rhode Island Welcome Back Center focuses on helping international professionals enhance their abilities, become employable and achieve their dreams. These trained professionals are highly skilled and internationally trained but need assistance with adapting their skills to the local workforce and a higher level occupation. The RIWBC provides a comprehensive continuum of services including career planning and English Language instruction. The partnership with College Unbound enables the Welcome Back Center to expand the range of services offered to immigrant professionals.
The Center will also be home to our advocacy work, research and publications in order to share our learning and provide a national model for returning adult education. We have learned, for example, how adult learners can attend college full-time, work full-time, and manage the responsibility of family, with 80% graduating in an average of 2.5 years. We have learned the dynamics of the prison education for men and women, and how to help bring them back with direction and purpose through college - CU’s prison Education program has only a 25% recidivism rate, half the rate of Rhode Island overall. We have learned how to ensure immigrant professionals are able to utilize their skills locally, with a 315% average salary increase in healthcare positions.