WNC’s Higher Education in Prison Program (HEPP) provides access to higher education and workforce education for the under-served population of incarcerated men at Warm Springs and Northern Nevada Correctional Centers. HEPP’s vision follows the college’s vision: To be an integral and innovative educational partner fostering equity and a life of learning in an inclusive environment for the evolving, diverse communities we serve. The program strives to always be student-centered, inquiry-driven, and data-informed and provide effective educational pathways for students. Investments in higher education in prison help provide hope for a second chance in life, reduce recidivism, and help break the cycle of poverty.
As of Spring 2020, WNC serves more than 140 students at Warm Springs Correctional Center (WSCC) and Northern Nevada Correctional Center (NNCC). WNC’s HEP program is unique in the state because we serve a larger number of students with a wider variety of sentence lengths and who are able to pursue Associate degrees as well as certificates of achievement and/or industry skills certifications.
WNC’s HEPP has unofficially been called a model for the state and was recently awarded the 2020 Social Justice Award at the inaugural Celebrating Social Work Leaders event hosted by the UNR School of Social Work.
WNC offers an Associate of General Studies degree at both correctional campuses and an Associate of Applied Science, Welding degree at NNCC. WNC also offers stackable credentials within both degree programs. All programs offered are equal in rigor and staffing to any other program the college offers. All programs can be completed while the students are still incarcerated. Students can also continue their education with us or the other NSHE institutions after their release.
- Automotive Service Excellence Certifications in collaboration with local automotive group interested in employing reentry citizens
- Construction and other Industry Skills Certifications
- Dual Enrollment with Carson Adult High School
WNC would not be able to offer these courses without the dedicated support of Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) administration at all levels, including those working on the ground at each correctional center. Staff at WSCC and NNCC have gone above and beyond to ensure our instructors have access to classrooms and administrators have the ability to meet with students for advising, enrollment, and graduation ceremonies.
WNC and Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) are partnering to develop a seamless transition for students taking classes with WNC on the inside to working with TMCC reentry staff as students near their release date. TMCC helps formerly incarcerated students connect to organizations and services they need, to information about continuing their education, and to potential employers. Education on the inside and reintegration on the outside go hand-in-hand.
- State: WNC received state funding starting in FY20 to support the expansion of the HEPP. (Student eligibility based on parole or expiration date)
- Private Donors and Correctional Center Fundraisers: The WNC Foundation manages the funds from private donors and fundraisers that help support the program. (Student eligibility is open, funds are limited)
- Self-Pay/Family Pay: WNC accepts self-pay/family-pay to allow students to take additional classes, or to allow students who have not qualified for other funds to take classes
- Future plans: To achieve sustainability, WNC’s HEPP staff will seek grants for which to apply and hold fundraisers specifically for the program as well as pursue status as a Pell granting institution able to offer Pell grants to our incarcerated students.
HEPP was reinstated at WSCC in the 2015-2016 academic year with a small cohort of incarcerated veterans who were supported by funds from a private donor and fundraisers organized by students inside. The program had been dormant since 2008 due to the Great Recession and the elimination of Pell grant eligibility for incarcerated people. By the spring of 2018, HEPP was reinstated at NNCC as well with a small cohort of students pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Welding.
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