Stakeholder Collaboration for Postsecondary Education in Prison

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In the past decade, stakeholder groups have formed across the country to achieve higher-quality postsecondary education in prisons, enhance student outcomes, and push policy changes. This report describes the benefits of emerging stakeholder engagement strategies and trends in stakeholder collaboration. It also serves as a guide to building stakeholder coalitions in the field of postsecondary education in prison. Prison education programs (PEPs) are offered by institutions of higher education and postsecondary vocational institutions that have been approved to operate in a correctional setting. The U.S. Department of Education has requirements that PEPs must follow in order for incarcerated students to access Pell Grants. These requirements include input from a variety of stakeholders to evaluate PEPs and confirm that they are operating in the best interests of the students. After conducting a national scan of existing consortia, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) analyzed the information presented in this report from 23 consortia. Vera found that tapping into the expertise of various stakeholders is a crucial element to ensure high-quality education practices for incarcerated students.

Key Takeaway

Stakeholder groups provide a foundation built on a common mission, with substantive achievable goals and structures for the work to thrive, allowing stakeholders to collaborate effectively. Stakeholder feedback is a critically important practice that should be at the forefront in the expansion of postsecondary education in prison.

Publication Highlights

  • Having stakeholders work together results in stronger communication and interaction among entities, better policy outcomes, and increased organizational performance.

  • Stakeholder collaboration can directly impact idea generation in the field, lead to more resource sharing, and result in higher rates of accountability among stakeholders.

  • Stakeholders representing a variety of life and professional experiences bring expertise and resources that are essential to combating challenges such as barriers involving screening for convictions during the college admissions process.

Key Facts