Since 2001, Donnelly College has offered classes leading to associate degrees to inmates of Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing, Kansas.
Recently, Donnelly became a proud participant in the U.S Department of Education's Second Chance Pell program. This program creates educational opportunities for incarcerated students by providing need-based Federal Pell Grants to individuals enrolled in post-secondary programs offered by approved colleges and universities.
Until this program was announced, under the Violent Crimes Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, incarcerated citizens lost the ability to access Pell Grants through Federal Financial Aid. In 2015, The Second Chance Experiment program was established, and then expanded in 2020 with now a total of 130 higher education institutions participating, in 42 states and Washington, D.C.
In a notice released from the Office of the Governor on October 26, 2020, Governor Laura Kelly announced that seven Kansas colleges including Donnelly College will be receiving $2,229,125 million in Pell funding for incarcerated citizens. “We know that increased access to education reduces rates of recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals.” Governor Laura Kelly said.
The funding will enable approximately 700 incarcerated citizens to participate in credit-bearing Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in addition to associate and four-year degrees. This was the second round of awards through the U.S. Department of Education, with 67 colleges selected from 180 applicants. Kansas received the highest number of awards in the nation.
“These grants are an important milestone in our commitment to increasing higher education opportunities in Kansas correctional facilities,” said Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Jeff Zmuda.
Since 2001, nearly 500 inmates have taken Donnelly courses and 23 have graduated with associate degrees. Although we are proud of this record, we know that many more inmates will be able to benefit from our academic programs with the continued expansion of the Second Chance Pell program.
Governor Kelly’s press release can be found here
More information about Donnelly’s program can be found here