Campaign to Restore Federal Pell Grant and NY State TAP Grant Eligibility & Ban the Box Working Group

The EIO Coalition opposes federal and state bans on need-based financial aid for postsecondary correctional education in prison, including the 1994 federal ban on Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students, along with the 1995 New York State ban on Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grant eligibility. Eliminating these funds decimated in-prison education in federal and state correctional institutions across the United States, to the detriment of incarcerated individuals, and despite the effectiveness of these programs on reducing recidivism. Nationally, postsecondary correctional education programs fell from 350 to eight, and in New York State from 70 to four. The working group meets monthly to work on base-building, develop strategy and implement direct action to move the campaign forward in concrete ways.   Join this working group to help build a base of support and pass legislation to restore need-based financial aid to incarcerated students.

Download the coalition Fact Sheets and Policy Briefs on the issue:

Human Impact Partners Report

The Education from the Inside Out Coalition partnered with Human Impact Partners to create a Human Impact Assessment on the relationship between access to post-secondary education while incarcerated and overall public health. Click the link to view the study.


There is currently a bill in the New York State legislature to reinstate TAP funding for currently incarcerated students in New York State (S975/ A2870).

Meet Our Working Group Co-Chair Lorna Woodham

Lorna recently began working with Dignity in Schools Campaign.  She believes that the path to healing our communities begins with ensuring equal access to education. Lorna has participated in leadership positions at Osborne Association and Healing Communities.  As a dedicated social justice activist with much personal experience concerning the effect of incarceration on families, Lorna has spoken on panels at The Silberman School of Social Work, Osborne, Riverside Church, and Camp Promise, a camp for children with parents who are incarcerated.  Lorna holds a BA cum laude in Anthropology from Columbia University and is currently pursuing her M.Div./MSSW at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia School of Social Work.

Download the co-chair job description if you are interested in volunteering as a co-chair.

We have recently combined the TAP/Pell and the Ban the Box in Higher education Working groups. Download schedule here.

Campaign to Ban the Box in Higher Education

The EIO Coalition supports efforts to end the use of criminal history screenings of applicants during the admission process at colleges and universities. Colleges and universities across the United States increasingly use criminal history screenings in their admissions processes. These policies are being implemented despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that past criminal histories of applicants affect the rate of crime on campuses. Furthermore, these screenings create an unjust admission process which screen out groups of people and violate the spirit of educational opportunity for all. The working group meets monthly. Join this working group to help build a base of support, participate in campus based student organizing, and pass legislation to remove the criminal history box from college applications. Download our Fact Sheet  and Policy Brief on the issue,  our White Paper outlining SUNY’s criminal history screening policies and SIGN THE PETITION.

Boxed Out 

The Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) and the Education from the Inside Out Coalition released  “Boxed Out: Criminal History Screening and College Application Attrition” written by Alan Rosenthal, Esq., Advisor on Special Projects and Counsel; Emily NaPier, M.A., Senior Research Associate; Patricia Warth, Esq. Director of Justice Strategies; and Marsha Weissman, Ph.D., Executive Director.

Read the report here .

Beyond the Box: U.S. Department of Education

The Beyond the Box Resource Guide  provides information for colleges and universities to help remove barriers that can prevent the estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records from pursuing higher education, including considering the chilling effect of inquiring early in the application process whether prospective students have ever been arrested. The guide also encourages alternatives to inquiring about criminal histories during college admissions and provides recommendations to support a holistic review of applicants.

Student Organizing
We are currently supporting student organizing efforts at various schools in New York and New Jersey including at New York University, Columbia University, Princeton University, SUNY Empire State College, St. Francis College, and St John’s University. Please contact us if you are interested in getting involved in Banning the Box in Higher Education at your school or would like to connect with student organizers at your school. Download our Student Organizing Toolkit.

If you go to a SUNY schools and wish to support the campaign to ban the box please contact the EIO community organizer. We can supply you with outreach materials and help host an event.

In January 2014 the Fair Access to Education Act (S969 / A3363) was introduced in the New York State legislature. If enacted into law public and private colleges and universities in New York State would be barred from asking about criminal history on their college applications. The EIO Coalition was instrumental in drafting and introducing the legislation. We hope it serves as model legislation for other states.

Meet Our Working Group Co-Chair

Amanda Brooke Rosenblum has been organizing with EIO since the summer of 2013.  As the co-chair of the The Education from the Inside out working group, she is looking forward to bridging her work in NYC public schools with the movement towards higher education for all.

We have recently combined the TAP/Pell and the Ban the Box in Higher education Working groups.  Download schedule here.

Download the co-chair job description if you are interested in volunteering as a co-chair.