Dear Community and Educators,
This letter is written by the Black Prisoners’ Caucus in the essence of truth, love and an endless thirst for cultural refinement and education. Therefore, we hope that this letter is received in good health and great spirits.
As the BPC, we are organized to promote the growth and development of African Americans inside the Washington State prison system. We encoura...ge cultural competency among all prisoners, spiritual growth, education and literacy as a way to bridge the cultural divide that prevents prisoners from collectively working together. The BPC helps men strengthen their values so they can establish a stronger focus on family, community, higher education and re-entry so men transitioning back to society can reclaim their humanity as they strive to become responsible citizens.
In 1995, State law prohibited the use of public funds to support higher education for incarcerated people. Beyond Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Education Diploma (GED) and vocational courses, education has been severely restricted inside Washington State prisons. The BPC is now reaching out to communities for sponsors and volunteers and other resources to support college-level classes (for credit and non-credit) so incarcerated men at Clallam Bay Corrections Center can further their education.
Statistics show that education is one of the most essential tools for lowering high recidivism rates among prisoners. And with African Americans making up a disproportionately large number of prisoners, the BPC has placed an emphasis on improving access to higher education for ALL prisoners and have become determined to impact high recidivism rates among poor communities.
The BPC has taken the first step in pursuing prison education and has established T.E.A.C.H. (Taking Education and Creating History), a higher education program designed to bring college level education to prisoners. TEACH classes are available to every prisoner despite time structure, ethnic background or religious beliefs. Everyone interested in pursuing a higher education will be encouraged and supported on their journey. The partnerships the BPC have developed with the Department of Corrections, college professors and community organizations, like the Village of Hope, Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, The Social Justice Fund, Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS), and Transformative Education Behind Bars (TEBB) has primed the TEACH program to bring this new learning environment to life. However, limited resources has increased our need for additional support and we are reaching out to communities to build relationships as a way to help the TEACH program raise monetary and in-kinds donations to satisfy costs of books, tuition, as well as, recruit educators so we can collectively build the TEACH program to become vibrant and sustainable.
Things that the TEACH program is in need of:
•Sponsors and Volunteers,
•100 & 200 level courses for credit,
•Not for credit courses designed to invoke critical thought around social and cultural related issues,
•Educators who are willing to provide their courses through Portfolio or Correspondence
•Teacher training for students to become facilitators,
•Videos, video lectures, electronic learning tools, books, and other learning devices which can support curriculums and provide high quality education for every student,
•Donations to maintain the cost of student tuition and cost of supplies,
•Community advisors who can help us develop a stronger more sustainable learning community moving forward.
For anyone interested in supporting the BPC’s TEACH program with support or donations, please contact Dr. Gilda Sheppard at firstname.lastname@example.org or us at email@example.com
We anticipate that all those who receive this message will share our love for education. We are encouraged by the TEACH program and the endless possibilities that higher learning will provide. It is our hope to encourage as many people as possible to get involved so that incarcerated men at Clalllam Bay may have a chance at improving their lives through education. Whatever support you can offer will make a world of difference in the lives of so many. We are looking forward to hearing from you soon.