December 17, 2021
Contact: FDC Communications
ICYMI: FDC Hosted Second Chance College Program Graduation
Inmate participants joined by administrators and family to celebrate graduation from Florida Gateway College Second Chance Pell Program
LAKE CITY, Fla. – The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) is pleased to highlight the graduation of 37 incarcerated individuals who through a partnership with Florida Gateway College (FGC) program participated in the Second Chance Pell program. The graduation ceremony held Wednesday, December 15 at 11:00 a.m. at Columbia Correctional Institution Annex in Lake City paired students with instructors from FGC and allowed the opportunity to earn various degrees and certifications. The program was a great success with 29 students receiving Summa Cum Laude honors with an average 3.92 GPA.
“Educational opportunities such as this increase engagement in positive programs while reducing inmate idleness” said Secretary Ricky Dixon. “Join us in congratulating these graduates and the proud staff members from Columbia CI and Florida Gateway College who ensured the structure was in place for them to succeed.”
The experience of this graduating class was unique as they were the first to attain instruction through newly established methods of instruction. As many in-person educational programs came to a halt in 2020, and traditional college students transitioned to online classes at home, those responsible for ensuring the success of this program pioneered an alternate method of program delivery for those incarcerated.
“The urgent demand for remote learning and meetings during the pandemic changed the way we communicate as a society” said Director of Programs and Re-Entry Patrick Mahoney. “Changing the way courses were taught by college professors within correctional institutions were no exception. Our staff joined with our partners from the college to establish the remote learning infrastructure to ensure our students could stay in class and achieve their educational goals. Congratulations to all involved, especially the graduates!”
Of the 67 colleges and 120 institutions selected nationwide for the initial pilot, the Florida Gateway College Second Chance Pell Program at Columbia CI was the first and only experimental program site in Florida. The Department now has expanded to six additional college programs, with two more to be added next fall. With the recent expansion of Pell funding, FDC is optimistic that more college and university partners will express interest to participate in this unique opportunity.
As Florida's largest state agency, and the third largest state prison system in the country, FDC employs 24,000 members, incarcerates 80,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.