Tennessee Prison College Coalition

Partner driven, student-centered action for Tennessee

ResourcesTPCC One-Pager

TPCC at a Glance

In 2019, The Tennessee Prison College Coalition (TPCC) was launched, for strategic and timely collaboration across state agencies, colleges and universities and service providers to increase access and support for justice-impacted students pursuing higher education in and after prison, with an emphasis on ensuring program quality and equity.

TPCC is led by the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Correction, Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce, and the Office of Governor Bill Lee, as well as HEP program alumni who participate in the Coalition as experts by experience.

TPCC Partners


Tennessee Higher Education Initiative (THEI)

Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC)

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

TPCC Priorities

Centering Students

TPCC’s priorities were shaped in large part from extensive survey feedback from incarcerated HEP students in Tennessee, and numerous listening sessions and focus groups with HEP alumni. HEP alumni have also been members and valued partners of TPCC working groups, understanding that directly impacted students bring an essential perspective to the work of HEP policy and practice alignment.
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Expanding Access and Reducing Barriers

In 2019, Governor Lee launched the Correction Education Investment--a commitment to invest in expanding education and re-entry opportunities inside Tennessee prisons. With this commitment, Tennessee Community Colleges and Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) now offer certificate programs and associate degree programs in the majority of TDOC facilities across the state.

Through this exciting season of opportunity, TPCC partners have worked proactively and collaboratively to continue to expand access for 1) additional cohorts or students, 2) additional degree offerings and pathways, including Bachelor’s Degree programs, and 3) college programs at additional prison locations.  The group has also worked closely with the Office of the Governor to flag legislative priorities that would improve the lives of justice impacted students, like reducing barriers that people with criminal backgrounds face in pursuing professional licensure.
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Ensuring Quality and Equity

TPCC is committed to ensuring students receive high quality higher education opportunities in Tennessee prisons, and to preventing inequitable program exclusion. To this end, TPCC is developing the first HEP Program Quality Indicator Tool of its kind to be implemented by the Tennessee Department of Correction and colleges and universities to establish a standard for quality and excellence across all HEP programs in the state.
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Student Support

TPCC partners approach the student continuum from pre-enrollment through completion, re-entry and employment to identify opportunities to fill existing support gaps, offer warm handoffs, and meet student needs.

TPCC’s goals to 1) work collaboratively to ensure student support reflects student needs, 2) build guardrails to protect against exploitative or harmful practices, and 3) fill student support gaps across the student continuum are strengthened by the work of the TPCC Professional Learning Community. Learn more about the TPCC Learning Community, join us for Professional Development and community, and find helpful HEP resources here:
The TPCC Learning CommunityThe TPCC Learning Community

Data Sharing and Partnership

TPCC is actively contributing to the construction and sustainability of a systems approach to HEP in Tennessee, and potentially as a useful model for other states across the country.  Relationships and partnerships built during TPCC implementation and continuation have fostered a community that is dedicated to ethical data gathering and sharing in order to facilitate smooth transitions for students as they matriculate through their educational journey.
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Culture Shifting

TPCC is work that brings together partners and agencies across the state to actively participate in the success of students of HEP programs in Tennessee.  These partners and agencies have largely worked independently of each other prior to the implementation of TPCC but now are working together toward one goal:  the success of students.
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Learn More

Brandon, May 2019 Graduate
“Education was the game changer that I needed.”
— Edward

The Work of TPCC has been made possible by generous support from the ECMC Foundation and the Laughing Gull Foundation.