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UBB Selected for Pell pilot program

July 2016

Representatives from University Beyond Bars and Seattle Central College were in Washington, DC in June 2016 to attend the inaugural convening of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, which allows incarcerated students to receive federal Pell Grant funding for postsecondary education.  In May, the U.S. Department of Education announced the 69 selected colleges and universities that will provide postsecondary education to nearly 12,000 students in more than 100 state and federal prisons nationwide. Seattle Central College, in partnership with University Beyond Bars, was selected to participate in the program out of more than 200 applicants in 48 states.

In 1994, Pell Grant eligibility for students in state and federal prisons was eliminated as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program to restore educational access for some of those individuals, improving their chances of successful and productive reentry after they are released.

“Expanding educational opportunity for people who are incarcerated not only improves their lives, but strengthens our communities by preparing them to contribute to society rather than return to prison,” said Fred Patrick, director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. “We are thrilled that University Beyond Bars and Seattle Central College are partners in this important initiative to restore and expand access to college in prison.”

With support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Vera is providing technical assistance to the selected Second Chance Pell sites as part of the Expanding Access to Postsecondary Education Project. The project aims to facilitate the implementation and scaling up of quality higher education programs in prisons and those that work with students after they return home, and to assist with the development of policies, procedures, and practices to increase the participation of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals in these programs.

University Beyond Bars hopes that over 60 of our students will directly benefit from this grant through tuition assistance. Stay tuned for updates!



August 27, 2015

UBB and FEPPS co-hosted an evening of appreciation for our volunteers at Orfeo in downtown Seattle. Over 60 volunteers from University Beyond Bars, Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, and Yoga Behind Bars enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate successes, share lessons learned, win raffle prizes, and build community among our volunteers. Thank you to everyone who came out to help us celebrate!


WSR Recognition Ceremony

June 2015

June 10, 2015: UBB students, faculty, and supporters came together at the Washington State Reformatory to celebrate our students' achievements.  We honored 242 students who completed over 89 courses! This represents 3,600 hours of completed coursework since our Fall 2013 ceremony.  Program remarks were made by students, staff, Board Chair Gary Idleburg, and Dean Stephanie Delaney from Seattle Central College. Congratulations to our students!

Thank you for Giving BIg!

May 2015

May 5, 2015: The Seattle Foundation GiveBIG day of online giving was an overwhelming success for UBB.  Compared to last year, we more than doubled the number of individual donations and almost tripled the total amount raised.  We are so thankful for your generosity!  And by participating in this way your gift was ‘stretched’ by the Seattle Foundation to go even further.  From all of us at UBB: THANK YOU so very much.

Spring semester updates

April 2015

April 15, 2015: UBB's Spring 2015 semester is well underway with over 25 classes and 230 students enrolled. Credit courses include Environmental Science 150, Finite Mathematics 104, Poverty and Social Inequality 370, English Composition 101, and Psychology 100.  

Congratulations to two of our students who received Top 50 awards for their writing in the National Prison Writing contest hosted by See our Publications page for details. 

UBB PARTICIPATES in Beyond Bars Conference

March 2015

March 23, 2015: UBB staff participated in Beyond Bars, a full day conference hosted by the University of Washington and the Legal Foundation of Washington.  The conference focused on the impacts of race and poverty on incarceration and families affected by the criminal justice system.  UBB Executive Director Stacey Reeh co-facilitated the session "Removing Stigmas and Barriers" with Rhona Taylor from Columbia Legal Services. More conference recap can be viewed here.


February 2015

February 4, 2015:  Real Change newspaper published Inmates Deserve Hope, an essay about the need to reinstitute a parole system in Washington State, written by UBB student Art Longworth. 

"Ultimately, the question is how to define justice.  What a society does to those it locks away in prison - how much hope it holds out to or withholds from them - has more to do with those who are outside prison than any of the people inside."

UBB & FEPPS teacher training

January 2015

January 31, 2015: UBB and Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS) held a joint teacher training for over 50 of our instructors. The day's events included an overview of the history of higher education in prison, pedagogical and ethical concerns of teaching "inside," and a panel discussion with current instructors and UBB/FEPPS alumni. Special thanks to our facilitators, Annie Dwyer and Tanya Erzen!


January 2015

January 19, 2015: The Seattle Times featured a front page story about college prison programs in Washington State that highlighted UBB and our colleagues at FEPPS (Freedom Education Project Puget Sound).

Annual benefit a success!

October 17, 2014

Thank you to everyone who attended UBB's annual benefit dinner  We were heartened to see the support from so many community members and thanks to you, we exceeded our fundraising goal. We hope to see you again in 2015!  

partnership with Seattle Central College

september 2014

After years of tireless work and dedication, UBB and Seattle Central College (SCC) put the finishing touches on their multi-year partnership in Fall 2014.  This partnership allows UBB students to earn SCC credit for their UBB-SCC college pathway courses leading to an Associate degree. The coursework will be transferable for students continuing their studies at a Washington State four-year institution upon release.  Our thanks go to President Killpatrick, Dean Delaney, and everyone at SCC who helped make this innovative program possible.

UBB Student has life sentence overturned 

June 2014

Jeremiah Bourgeois, a long time UBB student and member of UBB's Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC) had the life sentence given him at age 14 overturned and now looks forward to release. He is completing a Bachelor's degree in government and criminology. Read The Seattle Times article here.

"UBB allows us to gain a sense of accomplishment in an endeavor most never thought possible - college coursework."