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  • 06.24.16

Obama extends Pell Grants to thousands of prisoners

This morning, the Obama administration announced about 12,000 prisoners will now be able to take college courses, thanks to an expansion of eligibility requirements for Pell Grants.

The pilot program, which is called “Second Chance Pell” and includes 67 (mostly public) colleges and universities, was created, in part, as a result of the efforts of 2016 Most Creative People honoree Glenn Martin, founder of the not-for-profit JustLeadershipUSA. Last year, Martin worked with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan to restore prisoners’ access to Pell Grants after the 1994 Violent Crimes Control and Law Enforcement Act—signed into law by President Clinton—had stripped it away.

“We have this criminal justice reform effort that almost never allows for the leadership of people who’ve actually served time,” Martin, a former prisoner himself, told me earlier this year. The Second Chance Pell program seems like a smart step toward reintegrating—rather than disenfranchising—prisoners after they’ve served their sentences.CP