IONIA — An undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education visited Ionia Prison Tuesday morning to learn about a program for incarcerated individuals he hopes can be implemented at other correctional facilities in the country.
U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary James Covarre toured the Calvin Prison Initiative on Tuesday, August 30, at the Richard A. Handron Correctional Institution at 1728 Bluewater Highway in Ionia.
Kvaal and others from the US Department of Education toured the facility and spoke with Calvin Prison Initiative students and staff. This is a partnership between Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary.
The program awarded its first Bachelor of Arts in Faith and Community Leadership this May. This allows incarcerated individuals to take what they learn and improve facilities and communities.
Kvaal noted that the Biden administration is in the process of enforcing a bipartisan law to restore full Pell grant eligibility for incarcerated students, effective July 2023.
This was Kvaal’s first stop, as he plans to visit several prisons to learn more about educational programs for incarcerated individuals. Although he’s attended listening sessions before, Handlon said it was his first prison visit.
“The work being done here is a great example of why it matters,” Kvaal told local media at a post-tour press conference. “We know the value of these programs in helping people find jobs — reducing their chances of going back to prison — but it also gives people the opportunity to pursue higher values in education. It’s important for everyone.”
Kvaal said he spoke with CPI students about how the program helped them find purpose.
“These programs are of great value, both financially and in cents, but also because every human being should be educated and have the opportunity to make the most of life,” said Kubal. rice field.
Kvaal pointed out that it is difficult for a program like CPI to “get off the ground.” He said new programs come and go and there is skepticism. He hopes that permanent Pell Grant funding will secure financial support for prison education programs.
The Ministry of Education is finalizing the rules for Pell subsidies, Kvaal said. Allows colleges and universities to create branch schools within prisons and prisons. A pilot program has existed since 2015.
Calvin Seminary President Jules Medenbrich thanked the U.S. Department of Education and the Michigan Department of Corrections for supporting the program.
“I appreciate the bipartisan support I experienced in Michigan, but I also appreciate that this can be one way to change language and culture to see other people,” Medenblik said. said. “We don’t see the people here as prisoners, we see them as students at Calvin College, and we appreciate Calvin Theological Seminary as a partner in that.”
Amy Lloyd, the Department of Education’s assistant secretary for careers, technology and adult education, called the CPI a “high quality” prison education program. She hopes the full reinstatement of Pell grants for incarcerated students next summer will allow more post-secondary programs to run in prisons.
“We really give people the potential to build a rewarding future,” says Loyd.
Kvaal also praised the vocational training program offered by CPI, saying the program works closely with local employers to meet labor demand.
“We’re going to take lessons back from working here and give incarcerated students an opportunity,” he said.
— Contact reporter Evan Sasiela at email@example.com. follow him on twitter @Salsa Evan.