Contacts: Tim Barnett, firstname.lastname@example.org, 773-442-6030
Program Description: University Without Walls is a competency-based, degree-completion program for students with exceptional amounts of professional, community, and academic experiences that have clearly provided extensive college-level learning, particularly in one or two related areas. Students in the program include dancers, artists, business owners, museum curators, and others who may or may not have college credits but whose competence in their chosen fields can be documented and is at a very high level.
Degrees Offered: Bachelor of Arts in University Without Walls (an accredited, non-traditional degree)
Unique Features: Having taught through P+NAP for several years, Erica Meiners and I realized that some of the students had accomplished so much through their prison and pre-prison educations, writing and publishing, community and political work, and art and exhibits that they would make ideal University Without Walls students. These students’ academic abilities and insight are superior, and they are extraordinarily well-read as well as being prolific writers. Until last year, all their learning had often received very little, if any credit in spite of their incredible credentials, however; although many have been taking college-level classes through DePaul, P+NAP, and other institutions for many years, any credit the students might have expected to receive for their work was stymied by the fact that four-year institutions stopped offering for-credit classes after 1994-95 in light of the change in Pell grant funding. UWW, as a competency-based program, is able to recognize the students’ prior work–credited or not–as long as their capabilities and learning can be documented, and that’s what we are in the process of doing in this pilot project. We received a grant from a family foundation to pay for students’ tuition and incidentals for the program, and the eight Stateville students are on track to graduate next year.
Headquarters: NEIU and the Prison+Neighborhood Arts Project both operate out of Chicago, IL, while Stateville Prision is in Crest Hill, IL.
Correctional Facilities Served: Stateville Prison
Population Served: Men in a maximum security prison.
Number of Students: 8
Graduates to Date: This cohort of eight is our first group. They are all on track to graduate in May 2019.
Year Founded: 2017
Founders: Tim Barnett and Erica Meiners, with assistance from the Prison+Neighborhood Arts Project
College/University/Organization Partnerships: Northeastern Illinois University (in collaboration with the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project: P+NAP)
Funding: Private family foundation–a temporary grant that will be re-evaluated in the next year before it is determined whether a new cohort of UWW students at Stateville can be funded.