Second Chances: Education and Justice Involved Students

Second Chances: Education and Justice Involved Students

By: Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education

On the first work day of April, during which we celebrate Second Chance Month, I had the honor of joining colleagues from the Department of Justice and local and state leadership at an event held at a Miami-Dade College campus located within Everglades Correctional Institution in Florida.  The event celebrated the upcoming reinstatement of federal Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals and was an important reminder of how essential postsecondary education in prison is for students, their families, correctional staff, and our communities.  As we come to the close of Second Chance Month, the Department of Education (ED) lifts up and reaffirms our commitment to providing equitable access to and engagement in high-quality education and training for people who are justice-involved, including people who are incarcerated and those returning home from jail and prison. Education has the power to transform lives and communities and open doors to rewarding careers and meaningful community engagement. Research demonstrates that people who obtain their high school equivalencies while in prison increase their earnings by 24-29% within the first year of release, and those who participate in correctional education programs are 13% less likely to recidivate than those who do not.  The Department calls upon institutions of higher education (institutions) to join us in celebrating Second Chance Month and treating all people who are justice-involved with dignity and respect by banning the box and equitably mitigating barriers to high-quality postsecondary education.   

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By Dr. Mary S. Graham, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College president 

As president of a large community college in South Mississippi, I have the privilege of investing in our community and local economy and the responsibility to ensure the training we provide to our students is innovative, relevant, and career-advancing.  We partner with local businesses to train quality employees they need while strengthening student employment opportunities here in our region in the information sciences, health care, and maritime. 

Our students are trailblazers.  We have advanced cybersecurity training so our students find employment protecting the government, business, industry, education, and the military from fraud at the state and national levels.  To deliver the highest-quality cyber skills training to our students, we are partnering with Microsoft and the American Association of Community Colleges for the Cyberskills for All initiative, including grant money to further expand this program.  The college values our role in community economic development and works hard to foster industry partnerships to play an integral role in student success.  We have the distinction of being a Center for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity—a point of pride for both our college and students who hold our credentials. 

Beyond Cybersecurity, every year we engage nearly 200 students in Coding, Computer Networking, Computer Programming, Data Analytics, IT Specialist, and Simulation and Game Design training. These programs are CompTIA, CIW, and Cisco certified, so students have documentation demonstrating they meet or exceed industry standards to work in these high-demand fields—and they do! This year, Cisco chose two students in information technology programs to serve on teams to provide network security and technology troubleshooting at large, national events. 

Health care is another high-demand field, and we offer eighteen credit and nine non-credit health care programs.  The more than 500 students we train annually through MGCCC’s nursing programs are leading the state and nation in health care training.  The Bryant Center at Tradition, home to all our nursing programs, has a state-of-the-art health care simulation center accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare.  The Associate Degree Nursing program ranks sixth in the nation and first in the state.  The Practical Nursing program ranked as the number one online program in the nation last year.  In our health care programs, students have a ninety percent pass rate or better on national exams, demonstrating their hard work in applying their outstanding training.   

Additional programs significant to our region include our Kubota Tech and National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) training in Maritime Multi-Craft and Maritime Technology programs, training in underwater drone construction, and maintenance in the Unmanned Maritime Systems program.  MGCCC also is an official training provider for Commercial Truck Driving through the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

At MGCCC we want our students to thrive, and we empower them to do so through high-quality, industry-specific, and certified training, opening matchless opportunities for advancement in their careers.   We are proud to vitalize our community through preparing students for success and providing local businesses with highly qualified employees:  we build legacies—one career and one generation at a time.  

Dr. Mary S. Graham has served as president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 2011. A native of Mississippi, and a proud graduate of MGCCC alumna, she embraces the philosophy of the community college and the rich tradition of excellence in education.  Dr. Graham is the recipient of numerous awards and honors and has led at the local, state, and national levels, including as Chair of the American Association of Community Colleges. 

2023 RISE Awardee Announced

2023 Rise Awardee Announced

By: Frances W. Hopkins is Director of the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award, as well as Director of President’s Education Awards Program.

A charge: Shine a Light on the staff that have been designed to have such impact within the school walls. These staff are often not highlighted nor recognized nearly enough. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is thrilled, along with the RISE Coalition, to honor one extraordinary education support professional annually and to generate appreciation for all classified school employees under the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award. This is the third year of the award, with nominations from governors and state education agencies, often working together, due by November 1 annually. 

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Updated College Scorecard Will Help Students Find High Value Postsecondary Programs

Find the right fit. Search and compare colleges: their fields of study, costs, admissions, results, and more. U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard.

By: Roberto J. Rodríguez, Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

We need a system that’s inclusive, that delivers value, and that produces equitable outcomes. We need transparency in data more now than ever before.

Secretary Miguel Cardona

The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard is a free online tool to help students of all ages, families, educators, counselors, and other college access professionals make data-informed decisions when choosing a college or university to attend. Through an open and easy-to-use website, the Scorecard supports students on their pathway to college and future careers by increasing the transparency of information that will help them understand the benefits of a higher education, such as college costs, student debt, graduation rates, admissions test scores and acceptance rates, student body diversity, post-college earnings, and much more.

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My Hometown Community College & The Change It’s Made In Me

By: Ángel Gabriel Garcia, Student at Oxnard College

My name is Ángel Gabriel Garcia, and I am a proud first-generation community college student at Oxnard College. I was born and raised in Oxnard, California, a city that’s often ridiculed and overlooked due to its high concentration of immigrant families and poverty. The ugly and negative stereotypes I’ve heard about my community over the years have instilled a burning passion in me to prove the cynics wrong and show my community’s beauty. Thanks to my community college, I’ve been able to start doing just that. 

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Schools Across the Nation Embrace Sustainable Practices

Congratulations to the 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees! The 2023 cohort, announced April 20th, includes 26 schools, 11 districts, and four postsecondary institutions. These honorees employ sustainability practices and policies to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective environmental sustainability education. This year, two-thirds of honorees are schools and districts in underserved communities, illustrating that any school can adopt sustainability into their daily operations, wellness programs, and curriculum.

Schools Across The Nation Embrace Sustainable Practices

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Celebrating our Nation’s Community Colleges

Celebrating our Nation's Community Colleges

By: Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education

With the founding of Joliet Junior College near Chicago, Illinois in 1901, America’s community colleges have a long history of transforming lives and serving as on-ramps to economic and social mobility. Over the past 122 years, our nation’s community colleges have grown to become integral in the fabric of our education system, serving 30% of all postsecondary students. They are situated to be accessible to virtually every community across the country, rural to urban, our community colleges provide open access to students from all walks of life, including incumbent workers and adults seeking to upskill through credential and degree programs as well as youth—both in high school through dual enrollment, and after high school as they pursue higher education and career-connected learning. For all students, community colleges create seamless pathways to economic opportunity and financial stability.

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Update on the Department of Education’s Third-Party Servicer Guidance

By: James Kvaal

As the Department of Education (Department) strives to make postsecondary education more affordable and student loans more manageable than ever before, we are also working to identify and remedy the root causes of unaffordable debts. President Biden has called for a postsecondary education system that’s not only more affordable, but more accountable to students, families, and taxpayers. For many families, an education beyond high school is among the most expensive and important purchases they will make in their lifetimes, as the quality and value of an individual’s postsecondary experience plays an immense role in their lifetime earnings and career options.  

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Building Strong Partnerships to Advance Digital Equity for Learners

Building Strong Partnerships To Advance Digital Equity For Learners

By Roberto Rodríguez, Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, and Kristina Ishmael, Deputy Director, Office of Educational Technology

During the U.S. Department of Education’s National Digital Equity Summit, Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized that “interagency collaboration matters.” Siloing efforts to close the digital divide between different sectors can impede the capacity for collective, sustainable impact.

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U.S. Department of Education Launches the Your Place in Space Challenge

U.S. Department of Education Launches the Your Place In Space Challenge

The U.S. Department of Education has announced the launch of the Your Place in Space Challenge. This is the first challenge in the CTE Momentum series, an annual challenge series to prepare high school students for rewarding careers and increase access to career and technical education (CTE). The Your Place in Space Challenge invites high schools to submit designs for a product or service that will contribute to space missions and exploration.

Teams may pursue designs of their choice or find inspiration from one of four suggested areas of exploration — covering topics such as space debris, the International Space Station, space travel, and the environment. Submissions are due by 6:00 p.m. ET on October 30, 2023. An independent judging panel will review submissions based on the challenge selection criteria and recommend up to 10 winners, who will each receive at least $5,000. The Department anticipates announcing the winners and launching the next annual challenge in early 2024.

Helping Students Pursue Space Careers

The space industry is expected to triple in size over the next 30 years, employing over 1.5 million people and generating $780 billion in economic activity by 2050. From welders and cybersecurity experts to communications professionals and botanists, space careers promise higher-than-average wages and strong growth expectations over the coming decades. But space careers demand specialized skills — and students need new opportunities to build skills for future success. CTE programs are uniquely positioned to meet these needs because they offer students hands-on opportunities to apply knowledge and skills that they learned in a classroom setting.

“Our students need interdisciplinary opportunities to gain the skills critical for valuable careers — and our teachers deserve support in creating these inspirational educational programs. Through the Your Place in Space Challenge, the U.S. Department of Education is helping students connect the dots between the skills they build in CTE programs and fulfilling careers in the space industry.”

— Dr. Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Learn How to Get Involved

Get started by exploring the curated resources for inspiration on how to bring the Your Place in Space Challenge into classrooms during the 2023-2024 school year. To learn more about the challenge and receive updates on all CTE Momentum challenges, visit and sign up for the series newsletter.

An Open Letter from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten on Women’s History Month

An Open Letter from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten On Women’s History Month

It’s Women’s History Month, and this year’s national theme—Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories—honors women of all ages and backgrounds who shape and share the story of America, while expanding our understanding of the human condition and strengthening our connections with each other and our world.   

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