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Denmark Technical College graduates first class at Allendale Correctional Institute

CRBR Biz Wire //May 15, 2024//

Denmark Technical College graduates first class at Allendale Correctional Institute

CRBR Biz Wire //May 15, 2024//

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Denmark Technical College is providing hope for the future to incarcerated individuals in South Carolina. On May 8, nine individuals representing the first class of students to graduate from the college through the Second Chance Pell program participated at a ceremony at the Allendale Correctional Institute.

Family, friends and loved ones gathered to celebrate, as Willie L. Todd Jr., Ph.D., president and CEO of Denmark Tech, offered words of inspiration.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to share in this special occasion. I wanted to encourage our newest alumni to continue forging onward in their quest for success and to let them know that their current situation does not define them,” said Todd. “I commend each and everyone of them for taking this bold step in securing their future.”

“Working directly with each of the scholars throughout this process is a true testament of their commitment to pursue academic excellence. The collaborative efforts between South Carolina Department of Corrections and Denmark Technical College solidifies the impact of a cohesive partnership,” added Leslie Holman-Brooks, Denmark Technical College executive director for career and student success.

Also in attendance were Dr. Cynthia Cash-Greene, superintendent of the Palmetto Unified School District; Dr. Emanuel Alston, regional principal of the Palmetto Unified School District, Allendale Correctional Institution administrators associate wardens Yvonne Wilkins-Smith and Shawanda Washington and Major Selma Brabham, head of security; Al Jenkins, regional director for Senator Tim Scott; and leadership from the South Carolina Department of Corrections and Denmark Technical College.

Denmark Tech, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Corrections and the Palmetto Unified School District, opened access to higher education for incarcerated individuals at the Allendale facility in 2022, as part of the newest cohort of Second Chance Pell institutions which include 73 colleges, 24 of which are HBCUs.

The partnership provides degreed courses, fostering educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals. Recognizing the potential benefits for both institutions and the wider community, the partnership offers incarcerated individuals at Allendale Correctional Institution access to higher education opportunities.

Aligning with the goals of the Second Chance Pell Program, the collaboration aims to reduce recidivism rates while enhancing the employability of incarcerated individuals upon reentry into society. By extending educational opportunities to incarcerated individuals, DTC and SCDC aim to contribute to a more skilled and productive workforce in South Carolina.

Dr. Delores Dacosta, executive director of the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs, noted her support for the program.

“Educating individuals while incarcerated reduces recidivism by almost 43% after returning to their communities,” Dacosta said. “It also creates better-paying job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. I salute Dr. Todd and his team at Denmark Tech for their commitment to educating our justice-involved individuals and giving them the tools needed to become productive citizens. Their pioneering efforts in building bridges and closing gaps are truly commendable and serve as an inspiration to us all.”

“Armed with a solid educational foundation, our graduates are less likely to reoffend, as they are now equipped to be more employable. In alignment with our strategic priorities, this impactful program directly supports our social justice efforts,” added Todd.

The 2022 expansion of the Second Chance Pell is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to encourage equitable access to high-quality postsecondary education to inmates in an effort to support reentry and empower formerly incarcerated individuals while complimenting public safety initiatives.

The nine graduates each earned an associate of applied science in business administration and as well as a certificate in applied science in accounting.

“These degrees aren’t just a piece of paper to hang on the wall. They represent countless hours of hard work and dedication. It’s no easy feat, especially when you take into account the challenging situations many of these students come from,” said Tia Wright-Richards, vice president for academic affairs at Denmark Technical College. “When considering what degrees to offer, we wanted to make sure they were relevant to workforce needs and that they could take what they learned at Denmark Tech and apply it in a tangible way as they seize the second chance to build a brighter future.”

The second class of the Denmark Tech Second Chance Pell recipients is already underway and is set to graduate next spring.

“This inaugural class represents an important accomplishment for the South Carolina Department of Corrections and Denmark Tech’s efforts in improve employability and quality of life for formerly incarcerated individuals. We are excited to see the long-term impact it has on the community and how it grows from here,” said Todd.

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