While I stare at my computer screen contemplating our first Unlock Higher Ed General Meeting for this year, I can’t help but sit back and smile. I smile because I look with optimism where we come from and where we are headed.
UHE was started with a group of warriors impacted by the criminal legal system who understood how important having access to education was for equitable survival. This group became a movement that quickly garnished hundreds of supporters. With the passing of the Pell Grants Restoration Bill on December 20, 2020, and helping with “Ban the Box” efforts in over twenty states as it stands today, this group continues to lead the groundwork necessary to ensure that people like me have a fighting chance.
I know how important having an education was to me during my incarceration. It not only afforded me access to better jobs, but I was able to communicate in a way that my needs were regularly met. I also know how vital my education continues to be in my reentry journey. With thousands of barriers to overcome because of a past conviction, one has to wonder how anyone can succeed in Reentry at all! Therefore, you need to equip yourself with all the tools available.
Access to education should be a right for everyone, and incarceration should not impede that right. The UHE founders understood that. Today, UHE has become a coalition, to further continue this important effort; to ensure that their work is carried through and implemented as it is intended.
I can’t help but look forward with optimism as we gather the experts under one umbrella so that effective, fair, and equitable decisions can be achieved because we know the only way these practices can be attained is when all views affected by these practices are taken into consideration. That is the goal of the UHE Coalition, to bring as many of these voices into the equation to achieve systemic change.
I am honored to be part of this community of experts and look forward excitedly to all we can accomplish together as we focus on building that collaboration this year.
If you have yet to join our group, don’t wait any longer, here’s the link to register.
UHE Monthly Membership Meeting:
UHE Subcommittee Sign-up: https://forms.gle/yJQpeanTPBq3XBpq7
Your presence matters, use your voice!