Continuing your education is important for a variety of economic reasons – the higher level of education you achieve the higher your wages will be and the lower your rate of unemployment. Continuing your education has also been shown to lower your chances of going back to jail. The most important first step is to obtain your GED if you have not done so already. There are many free programs to help you study for the GED. And while college is not for everyone, the Reentry Campus Program helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals explore and plan for careers that include college degrees. As the Employment and Training section of this guide also shows, there are a variety of training programs that lead to industry certification, another path to increasing your education and employability.
A GED or high school diploma is the minimum level of education to gain jobs above the minimum wage. If you don’t have your GED or high school diploma, hopefully you will take advantage of the classes offered at the ACI. If you are being released and don’t yet have a GED, there are a variety of agencies in Rhode Island where you can attend GED classes for free. Many enroll in September and again in January and often have waiting list so apply as soon as you can. A few offer classes during the summer.
If your reading and math skills are strong enough you can also take the GED tests without going to classes. There are GED testing centers at CCRI, and in Middletown, Cranston, Peace Dale, and Woonsocket. (See Appendix for a list with addresses.)
You can also take practice tests online to see how ready you are to take the GED tests. To access sample tests, go to: https://ged.com/study/free_online_ged_test/ Please be aware that it is not legal to get a GED through online courses. Offers of getting your GED online for a fee are a scam.
You may be able to get college credits for courses taken while you were incarcerated. These organizations can help you navigate that process.
Reentry Campus Program
Address: 1 Empire Street, Providence, RI 02903
Phone: 401-442-9795 Website: https://www.reentrycampusprogram.org/
The mission of the Reentry Campus Program is to provide currently and formerly incarcerated individuals with an affordable pathway to accredited post-secondary education and certification programs that are infused within the reentry process. Education is crucial to successful reentry.
The most cost affordable accredited degree option available to individuals inside and outside of prison. This program provides currently and formerly incarcerated men and women with assistance in finding affordable post-secondary education and certification programs. They have a program through Roger Williams University to provide reduced cost courses both inside the ACI as well as outside for those who are released.
You can apply online at https://www.reentrycampusprogram.org/sign-up
Reentry Campus also provides reentry services to their registered students at the ACI starting six months before their release. Contact James Monteiro for more information.
Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI)
CCRI is the least costly higher education institutions in RI but it only grants two-year degrees (associates) as well as certification programs. If you are interested in a college degree, you might think about enrolling for the first two years at CCRI and transferring to a four-year college to reduce the cost of the degree.
The RI Educational Opportunity Center provides fee services to help you search for financial aid and fill out college admissions and financial aid applications. There are four EOC offices in RI, located in the four campuses of CCRI – Warwick, Providence, Lincoln and Newport.
You can schedule an appointment by calling 401-455-6028.
Brush up on skills or learn something new online!
Some job training programs evaluate your math and reading skills as part of the application process. Don’t worry if you need practice. There are resources online to help you with any subject you need to learn.
Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/ is a free website that offers easy-to-understand lessons in math but also subjects ranging from computer science to history to science to storytelling. Sign up with an email address to have access to their wealth of lessons. It’s great for helping your kids with their homework as well.
Better Money Habits https://www.bettermoneyhabits.com/ is a financial literacy and financial habits tool created by Bank of America and Khan Academy.
EdX https://www.edx.org/ is a website that offers free (and paid) online courses from Harvard, MIT, and other colleges on topics ranging from grammar to foreign languages to business to architecture.
Whatever you are interested in, there is an online resource to help you learn more!