University of Baltimore

Posted on April 21, 2021

Second Chance Program

Although CWNF supports University of Baltimore’s Mature Students Program, and not the Second Chance College Program, it stands as an example of excellence in serving vulnerable populations to achieve a higher education.

Since 2016, The University of Baltimore’s Second Chance College Program has been working with men in the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), to foster their education toward a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services Administration degree. While taking courses at JCI, students receive academic support from ‘faculty and staff, community volunteers, and their incarcerated peers.

Andrea Cantora, associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice and director of the program, says that 45-50 students are served every semester, and so far nearly 100 students have participated. Some, she says, get jobs in organizations relevant to their degree program, even while they are attending classes. Student Anthony Jackson praises Second Chance as not only a learning experience, but also a great way to move forward into a new life.

“It gave us a sacred space—it took us out of a prison context,” he says.

Being in college while incarcerated, he explains, means experiencing some paradigm shifts in thinking about what life has to offer. “It takes us out of a mold we were in for years, even before our incarceration.”

Prof. Cantora says the hard work of running the program is balanced with the incredible reward of changing a life: “We have students who say, ‘How can I repay you, or how can I repay the University for this?’ I simply say, ‘Graduate.'”

This post first appeared on the University of Baltimore Foundation blog as part of their 2020 Annual Report.