The Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI) at Princeton University is one of five organizations awarded a collaborative National Science Foundation grant to build a national alliance that will forge robust pathways to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers for people who are, or were, incarcerated.
PTI is made up of volunteers from around Princeton University who teach accredited college courses in New Jersey state prisons with Raritan Valley Community College and Rutgers University as part of the NJ-STEP Consortium, and in the Ft. Dix Federal Correctional Institution in partnership with Mercer County Community College. Co-founded PTI in 2005 by Gillian Knapp, now an emeritus professor of astrophysical sciences, and former postdoctoral fellow Mark Krumholz, Class of 1998, today PTI is an initiative offered through Princeton’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning.
“We are particularly excited to be part of a large-scale education equity project with leaders who were previously incarcerated,” said Jill Stockwell, administrative director of PTI, “and to propagate our model of summer research internships for formerly incarcerated undergraduates on campuses throughout the nation.”
STEM-OPS has the following four main areas of focus:
- STEM internships, including hands-on research opportunities at top-tier research universities, for formerly incarcerated people;
- The development of a national model for expanding vital STEM programming into existing prison education programs;
- Career and educational readiness workshops for STEM careers; and
- Development of STEM mentorship and professional networks for returning citizens.
STEM-OPS will also advance knowledge of how to provide incarcerated youth with pathways to STEM education and careers.
“I’m a formerly incarcerated person with three felony convictions, sentenced to 10 years in prison,”
said Stanley Andrisse, director and founder of From Prison Cells to PhD. “I was once told by a prosecuting attorney that I had no hope for change. I am now an endocrinologist scientist and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine and Howard University College of Medicine. This prosecutor’s prophesy was a little off. It’s imperative that we offer second chances. We are missing out on talent.”
By Prison Teaching Initiative, Princeton University