Policy & Advocacy

THEI has been involved in policy and advocacy efforts with and for our currently and formerly incarcerated students since our founding in 2012. THEI is an active member of Unlock HigherEd, a broad group of stakeholders from across the nation interested in policy solutions to increase educational access for individuals with criminal convictions. THEI has participated in Unlock HigherEd days on the hill in Washington D.C., taking program alumni to advocate for increased higher education opportunities and access to  financial aid in meetings with Tennessee House and Senate members.

In 2019, THEI formally launched the Policy & Partnerships portfolio of work, whose goal is to advocate for policy changes at the state and national level. The primary driver of this work is our commitment to centering the input and voices of currently incarcerated students and formerly incarcerated alumni.

Through support from the ECMC Foundation and the Laughing Gull Foundation, THEI launched the Tennessee Prison College Coalition (TPCC) in the Fall of 2019. TPCC is a space for higher education partners, corrections partners, re-entry partners and community partners to share best practices, identify programming challenges, create standard operating policies and procedures, and discuss an agenda of next steps for implementation of prison higher education across the state.

THEI continues to be involved with ongoing state and national efforts that aim to expand educational opportunities and financial support to currently incarcerated students, and reduce barriers to education and employment for alumni who return home.