Jeffrey Abramowitz, JD, CEO of The Petey Greene Project, discussed their work in helping the incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated access a quality education through volunteer tutors. The PGP is one of few groups focused on the pre-collegiate level and he shared statistics, only 20% of formerly incarcerated people have a high school diploma, one third have a GED, and less than 4% have a college degree. Without a high school credential, unemployment rates among formerly incarcerated people range from 25% to 60%. The PGP works by helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people obtain a high school or other credential and prepare for postsecondary success. Working with the incarcerated, they set educational goals, GED, getting into college or a skilled profession, to help them find jobs, regain family and reestablish themselves outside of prison. Clients are placed in high school equivalency programs, and focus on math, reading, writing, social studies, and science.
We discussed the biggest barrier to employment – and higher education – the ‘box’ applicants must check if they have been convicted of a felony. We talked about local programs that lead to skilled jobs and the social/work skills that they need to keep a job, programs including Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Philabundance. We also spoke of the educational work by Eastern State Penitentiary.
He discussed their work with the public and their volunteers who they’ve learned, are inspired by making a difference and doing something about a system that funnels people, especially Black people, from failed schooling to prison. Volunteers mostly come from local colleges and universities, as well as the general public and Bilingual tutors are encouraged to apply!
Jeff spoke of two initiatives, their HBCU Forward Initiative that looks to elevate Black college students as volunteer tutors and criminal justice advocates and their Justice Education Series, which educates volunteers and the public on the need and opportunity to effect systemic change in the criminal legal system.
For more information go to peteygreene.org