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Prison education program PATHS expand opportunity to earn college credits

10 Jan 2024, Jail News, Recidivism, by

The PATHS (Prepare, Achieve, and Transform for Healthy Success) prison education program is expanding to provide women with college credits.

Prison education program PATHS expand opportunity to earn college credits - Inmate Lookup

Collaborating with community partners, the Arizona State University W. P. Carey School of Business and the Televerde Foundation have been actively working since 2020 to provide a prison education program for women as they transition out of prison.

Under the acronym PATHS (Prepare, Achieve, and Transform for Healthy Success), this program imparts essential skills in workplace readiness, personal wellness, mentoring, financial literacy, employment strategies, and lifelong learning.

In a new development, women who successfully complete the PATHS coursework with a grade of C or better are now provided the opportunity to convert their achievements into college credit through ASU’s Universal Learner program.

The Televerde Foundation is currently paying the associated costs, with future funding coming from the kind donations of ASU Foundation supporters.

Michelle Cirocco, executive director of the Televerde Foundation, expresses enthusiasm about the expanded partnership with the ASU W. P. Carey School of Business, emphasizing the transformative nature of the PATHS program.

Cirocco highlights its commitment to not only imparting skills but also catalyzing profound life changes. Additionally, she sees this expansion as a significant stride in reducing recidivism and creating fresh opportunities for women from diverse backgrounds to rewrite their life stories. The move puts focus on the foundation’s belief in education as a pivotal catalyst for personal and societal advancement, with a commitment to helping incarcerated women become positive role models in their communities.


A transformative prison education program

Within the program, Julia LaRosa and Kostas Voutsas, members of the W. P. Carey community, play key roles as instructors. LaRosa, a clinical associate professor, and Voutsas, an assistant teaching professor, concentrate on workplace readiness skills through courses covering business communication, professional development, and college-level business fundamentals.

Voutsas, who teaches the Effective Communication for Career Success course, finds the concept of transforming prison time into a college education experience truly inspiring. He emphasizes the practical aspects of the course, empowering students to communicate as leaders, build positive relationships, foster diversity and inclusion, and optimize efficiency in the workplace.

In addition to this, Voutsas also says that the curriculum spans verbal and nonverbal communication, customer service, cross-cultural communication, the writing process, writing mechanics, delivering presentations with confidence, as well as interviewing and resume techniques.


Quantitative and qualitative outcomes

Since its launch in 2020, the program has delivered truly noteworthy results. Of the 161 students who have successfully completed the program, there is a zero recidivism rate, a marked departure from the anticipated 40% to 60%. Additionally, graduates’ salaries, according to the Televerde Foundation, exceed those of their less prepared counterparts by 61% to 75%.

Granted that the outcomes are impressive in numbers, the qualitative impacts are just as essential. Mary Montemorra, a graduate of PATHS, conveyed that the Televerde Foundation and PATHS provided her with the capacity to reintegrate into a community that once felt distant. It’s essential to recognize that incarceration signifies society’s decision to physically exclude individuals from the communities they were once part of, and PATHS restored that sense of community for her.

The Universal Learner program helps nontraditional students form a strong connection with ASU. Raghu Santanam, senior associate dean for executive education, corporate partnerships, and lifelong learning, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing access in the communities served by W. P. Carey. Legitimizing the hard work the women are undertaking and facilitating their future transition into college, connecting PATHS to ASU as a for-credit course is of great significance.