“In finding yourself, you discover an array of beauty within. You discover that you actually are intelligent, when your teachers and classmates had written you off as dumb because you didn’t apply yourself. Now you’ve found that part of yourself you never dreamed of — an appetite for learning. Now you have turned into a good person with direction in life and the vision to navigate it.” —Willie, Odyssey Beyond Bars alum (2021)
With the expansion of Odyssey Beyond Bars, students like Willie now have more opportunities to take life-changing college courses. Starting next year, OBB’s English 100 course will reach additional prisons around the state, offered with the same care, wraparound student services and respect for humanity that have long made Odyssey successful.
The generosity of two major sources makes this exciting expansion possible: the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation and UW System. Together, these two entities will provide OBB nearly $1 million over the next three years. UW System has also identified OBB director Peter Moreno as a leader of its broader Prison Education Initiative, which aims to extend college opportunities to incarcerated students statewide.
Inside Higher Ed recently featured news of the expansion in an article exploring the reinstatement of Pell grant eligibility for incarcerated students and the revitalized interest in higher education in prison nationally. Locally, Professor Kevin Mullen was interviewed by News 3 Now / Channel 3000 and shared his enthusiasm about engaging more students in prison. We will share updates on these exciting plans in our next newsletter.