Partnership Will Help Formerly Incarcerated Tennesseans Pursue College Degrees

Nashville State Community College and the Doochin Family Trust created an annual $20,000 scholarship pool for formerly incarcerated students.
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  • The $20,000 annual scholarship pool will help students pay for supplies like textbooks and potentially tuition.
  • Recipients could be awarded up to $2,686 each semester.
  • The Doochin Family Trust has a history of helping formerly incarcerated people in Tennessee pursue higher education.

A community college in Nashville, Tennessee, has announced a $20,000 annual scholarship pool for students who were formerly incarcerated to pay for costs like textbooks and tuition.

Students at Nashville State Community College who were formerly incarcerated will have access to bridge scholarships and microgrants to cover costs like textbooks and supplies, and potentially tuition and tuition balances, according to a Sept. 6 announcment from the community college.

Recipients can be awarded up to $2,686 each semester based on the availability of funds and applicants' needs. The funds will be awarded to both full- and part-time students who are pursuing a degree or technical certificate at the college.

The $20,000 annual scholarship pool is the result of a partnership with the philanthropic Doochin Family Trust, according to the release.

Higher education officials across the country have made efforts to expand higher education access to students both currently and formerly incarcerated in recent years.
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Cecily Stone, executive director of the Nashville State Community College Foundation, said in the release that the donation "not only supports formerly incarcerated persons who are now students pursuing their educational goals, it highlights the depth of resources the Foundation seeks to secure for students."

"Nashville State has been on a mission to create and clear pathways for our students, with an emphasis on completion and post-completion success," Nashville State Community College President Dr. Shanna L. Jackson said in the release. "We would not be able to carry out our work without the support of organizations such as the Doochin Family Trust. We are grateful for their partnership and the belief in returning citizens looking to better their lives and that of their community."

Doochin Family Trust Director Julie Doochin underscored the importance of higher education for returning citizens.

"Higher education is a gateway to stop the revolving door of recidivism, and as a result making our communities safer and saving millions of taxpayer dollars," Doochin, an educator who founded the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative for people who are incarcerated, said in the release. "Nashville State plays a critical role in serving all populations with their quality instruction and welcoming and inclusive attitude."

Nashville State Community College and Doochin have a long history of partnering to provide education to people both incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. The Tennessee Higher Education Initiative was based on a program that Doochin started at the college more than a decade ago, according to the release, and now partners with the Tennessee Department of Correction and multiple colleges to offer higher education in prisons.

Higher education officials across the country have made efforts to expand higher education access to students both currently and formerly incarcerated in recent years.

The U.S. Department of Education announced earlier this year it would expand the Second Chance Pell Experiment, which allows incarcerated people at some federal and state penal institutions to get credentials via partnerships between prisons and schools.

That effort comes ahead of the nationwide Pell Grant expansion for eligible incarcerated students starting in July 2023.