Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Northwestern Prison Education Program aims to transform the early successes of our pilot program into a statewide prison education system with a powerful voice in national policy conversations around mass incarceration and criminal justice reform. Support from the Mellon Foundation will allow NPEP’s development and growth in three critical respects: First, NPEP will significantly expand the reach and impact of its educational opportunities by (i) admitting new cohorts of students with shorter sentences each year, including extending applications to minimum-security prisons, and (ii) establishing the only post secondary prison education program for incarcerated women in Illinois at Logan Correctional Center. Second, NPEP aims to become a national model for prison education programs by (i) expanding our degree offerings from an associate degree from Oakton Community College to also include a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, administered through Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies, (ii) securing the long-term financial sustainability of our programming through negotiating in-load teaching commitments from Northwestern and Oakton, whereby part of NPEP teaching counts toward faculty institutional teaching loads, (iii) investing in full wraparound reentry support for our NPEP students, including tuition-free access to courses post-release, and (iv) implementing rigorous data-collection and evaluation processes to holistically assess student outcomes and program-level benchmarks. Third, NPEP will extend its mission beyond providing exceptional education to incarcerated students to generating innovative solutions to America’s mass incarceration crisis by deepening our partnerships with the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern, and other prison education initiatives at both the state and national levels.
Effective start/end date1/1/2012/31/22


  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1906-06917)


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