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Prison Education Program Given A Million Dollars

Chris Ferman '23
Courtesy of the Augustana Observer

Inmates at the East Moline Correctional Center now have guaranteed access to education for the next decade.

The Austin Knowlton Foundation has donated one million dollars to the Augustana College Prison Education Program for $100,000 per year for 10 years.
Sharon Varallo is the executive director of the program, called APEP , which offers classes taught in person by Augustana professors at the prison.

"The Knowlton Foundation had gifted us with a seed grant to get started. We were able to just get up and running very quickly."

The program started last fall and enrollment has grown from ten to twenty-four students. Since it started, it also received $50,000 for a computer lab.
Varallo says education reduces recidivism.

"So there's all of this denial of things you can actually do to take care of your family. Most folks who are incarcerated feel deep- deeply that they wanna get out and do better, and to the have dignity to do work that's meaningful and can support your kids. I mean- most of our students are fathers."

The students are also supported by the Second Chance Pell Program which gives them money to pay for school.

Susanna Kemerling is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2022 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated from Northern Illinois University for Media Studies in Communication and spent the last year working as a Teaching Assistant through the graduate program at NIU.