SCC and NDCS Launch Prison Education Program Partnership

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has partnered with Southeast Community College to expand higher education access to individuals incarcerated in five southeast Nebraska facilities/locations. SCC enrolled 229 incarcerated individuals for the 2024 spring semester, and more than 30 SCC faculty are teaching on-site and revising courses to meet security needs.

“Incarcerated individuals who participate in correctional education programs are 43% less likely to return to prison within three years and these odds decrease as they achieve higher levels of education,” said NDCS Director Rob Jeffreys. “This partnership with SCC brings a wealth of knowledge inside our walls and gives students the tools — and hope — to envision and work towards a future.”

In July 2023, the Department of Education reinstated Federal Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals, paving the way for SCC to create a Prison Education Program (PEP). While waiting for approval to become a Pell-funded PEP, SCC has begun offering courses to incarcerated individuals using alternative funding.

 SCC’s program, Unlocking Potential With Academic Resources and Development, currently offers a degree in associate of arts in academic transfer. Beginning in fall 2024, the associate of applied science in business, along with career and technical education programs, will be offered. These degree programs were selected because of the transferability of the courses as SCC expands UPWARD’s course offerings and locations. Classes are conducted in-person and on a similar schedule as SCC’s other campuses. For individuals who participated in admissions testing and have a release date prior to the end of the spring 2024 semester, SCC is working with them as they transition home to enroll in summer 2024 session classes at the college’s campuses and learning centers. 

 “Partnering with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services to provide access to higher education and vocational training is an honor and privilege,” said Amy Doty, dean of correctional education at SCC. “We could not be more excited about the opportunity to empower and transform justice-involved students with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities necessary for personal growth and successful reentry into their communities and workforce.”

 Classes are taught in Lincoln at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Reception and Treatment Center, Community Corrections Center – Lincoln and the Center for People for CCC-L students. Classes are also taught in York at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. SCC provides laptops for students to use and expand their digital literacy, working closely with NDCS to ensure these devices meet all security standards. 

 The following courses are offered this semester and most meet twice/week for a total of three hours/week:

  • CCC-L: Introduction to Psychology, Fundamentals of Human Communication, Success at SCC, Transitions
  • Center for People: Microsoft Applications, Success at SCC, Transitions
  • NCCW: Transitions, Composition I, Writing Workshop, Success at SCC
  • NSP: Composition I, Writing Workshop, Beginning College Reading and Writing, Intermediate College Reading and Writing, Introduction to Business, Business Communications, American History, Success at SCC, Transitions 
  • RTC: Public Speaking, American History, Success at SCC, Transitions

Jennifer Snyder
Communications Specialist
Southeast Community College


Dayne Urbanovsky
Director of Strategic Communications
Nebraska Department of Correctional Services