Gender Justice

FEPPS: Freedom Education Project Puget Sound

Pitchfork Communications | Alliance for Higher Education in Prison

Why is the group that you chose to research important?

The rate at which women are incarcerated continues to increase in the United States. Most of the incarcerated population have received minimal access to higher education or are never given the opportunity for an education due to the length of their sentencing. It is important for incarcerated women to be provided with equal opportunities for education as everyone else in the society. By providing educational organizations in prisons, it allows the incarcerated population to be given a chance of educating themselves in order to provide a successful future.

Brief history of the educational organization that you have researched along with the purpose of the organization?

In 1994 congress had eliminated all federal funds for college in the prison and as a result millions of people in American prisons lacked access to higher education.  The organization known as Women’s Village provides equity and improves the lives of women by providing education, self-empowerment and life skills while being incarcerated. Women’s Village later collaborated with FEPPS and invited professors to the prison to talk about building higher education. In 2011 FEPPS provided college courses that were taught by professors in the prison. The purpose of the FEPPS organization is to provide college courses as well as educational programs to increase education for incarcerated women. FEPPS believes that education is the most important factor in breaking the cycles of poverty and incarceration. By providing educational opportunities for these women it increases the chances of women continuing their education and a future careers once they have been released.

Whom do they serve?

FEPPS is committed to serve ALL women that are incarcerated in the Washington state no matter their religion, race, age, or sexual orientation. It not only provides women a chance to receive degrees but also provides education on life skills that can be used after being released from prison.

What programs does FEPPS offer?

Women in the FEPPS organization are able to obtain an associate degree through the Tacoma Community College and are given guaranteed admission once they are released. FEPPS also provides programs for women to obtain a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies for students who have completed an associates through the University of Puget Sound. Although there are a few students in this program, every year there is an increase in participants. Study Halls are also provided weekly for students in the FEPPS organization where they can work one on one with volunteer tutors. These tutors are volunteer students from the Puget Sound and University of Washington that provide educational support that meets the students’ needs to provide a successful education. For students who are not interested in obtaining a degree, they can participate in programs that provide courses that can improve their researching, time management, self-advocacy  and lifelong skills. One major advantage with these programs is that professors have broken down the college curriculum in a way where professors can teach at the students capability levels in order for them to reach their full potential in the class. It has shown that by doing so, the confidence and class participation in students has increased throughout the prison.

What could they do better?

Although FEPPS does an amazing job in providing students that are incarcerated an automatic transfer to the Puget Sound Community College, it does not mention whether there is any support with their finances when they are released and continue their education. For many incarcerated women, they are released with little to no money to live off of. It would be difficult for students to continue their education in community college if they are unable to afford tuition or even the basic academic recourses such as computers and textbooks.

Was information about the organization accessible? Red flags?

FEPPS organization provided accessible information that included not only the programs that were provided, but as well as the history behind this nonprofit. The organization also provides testimonies from students and alumni that were incarcerated in the prison. Background information is accessible for all the staff that are involved In developing this organization as well as other nonprofit organizations that they have collaborated with.

What other organizations are doing similar work?

University Beyond Bars is an organization that provides similar programs with the help of FEPPS for incarcerated men in the Puget Sound. Unloop is another organization that was created in 2015 that helps provide more access to software in correction centers in order to development proper education in prisons. This organization provides college degrees as well as building a pathway to a living wage career for their future lives.

References

Mission & Vision. University Beyond Bars. (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2022, from https://www.universitybeyondbars.org/mission

Our program. The Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS). (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2022, from http://fepps.org/about-us/what-we-do/

Programs. Unloop. (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2022, from https://www.un-loop.org/programs/