Photo Credit: Riley Weber-Horowitz
March 27, 2023 - At a recent celebration at the River City Correctional Center in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University and representatives from its College of Informatics honored the inaugural cohort of students who successfully completed the university’s Second Chance Education Program, a pilot program aimed at providing an educational opportunity in the study of information technology to incarcerated women at River City.
“This project was perfect for NKU’s first wave of Success by Design Innovation grants,” Dr. Kevin Kirby, dean of the NKU College of Informatics, said. “River City staff made it easy to bring an informatics course into their facility, and the results were deeply moving. None of us had dry eyes at the graduation ceremony.”
The NKU Second Chance Education Program creates pathways to college and to livable wages for incarcerated individuals. The program was created by the College of Informatics in collaboration with the NKU social work program and was funded in part by NKU’s Success by Design Innovation Challenge in 2020.
“The pilot program was designed to create pathways to college and livable wages,” Kendall Fisher, director of special programs for the Institute for Health Innovation, said. “It is a powerful example of NKU’s commitment to increasing access to higher education, enhancing opportunities for success and addressing the talent needs of our community.”
The Second Chance Education Program consists of training in basic computer concepts and terminology and the professional use of Microsoft Word and Excel. It was designed to yield three college credits upon transfer to NKU. College of Informatics faculty members developed and delivered the curriculum; social work faculty members will evaluate program outcomes.
“River City is so excited to have been able to work with NKU regarding the Second Chance Education Program for our women,” Scott McVey, executive director of River City Corrections, said. “The opportunity for our ladies to gain computer skills will not only enable to them to obtain employment but it was very evident that they gained self-confidence and awareness of their abilities to learn and grow. The combination of the educational skills and confidence will give them a stronger opportunity to use the skills learned at River City to make better choices and become productive members of our community. Over the past year, River City has made a huge commitment to educational and work programs. We believe those are significant factors for people to be successful. With that we are setting aside funding for more second chance opportunities with NKU to continue to work with the residents at River City.”
The program pilot was brought to women incarcerated at the River City Correctional Center in Cincinnati in January and taught by NKU lecturer Sarah Mann. On March 9, the first five graduates celebrated their completion of the program with family, River City staff and representatives from NKU. The College of Informatics arranged for surplus and reimaged laptops from NKU to be presented to the graduates along with their certificate of completion.
“This pilot program allowed the participants to learn some valuable computer skills before they re-enter the workforce for which they were very appreciative,” Mann said. “Some of the participants are considering furthering their education by completing a degree at NKU. By offering this program, NKU is helping serve the needs of the community by offering educational opportunities and a second chance at education to an often-overlooked population of adult learners.”
To learn more about the initiatives of Success by Design, visit its webpage.
About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit nku.edu.