The Bonner Institute has been working closely with the Institute for Prison Teaching and Outreach (IPTO) since 2008 to create teaching and learning opportunities for TCNJ faculty and staff that simultaneously address the needs of New Jersey’s prison population. IPTO and Bonner bring TCNJ students, faculty, and volunteers into New Jersey’s prisons to help tutor, teach, and mentor residents.
In a typical year, IPTO mobilizes about 75 volunteers to help inmates prepare for their GED, eight professors to teach college courses to DOC inmates, and 10 credit-earning TCNJ students who help enrich the education experience of the 110 DOC students participating in college courses. Additionally, the Bonner Institute and its Bonner Community Scholars deliver 20 volunteers and 400 hours of service to tutor GED and DOC college students. They also help facilitate enrichment programs that involve an added 20 volunteers and 20 DOC inmates.
NJ STEP: New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons (NJ STEP) is a coalition of colleges and universities working to create an undergraduate degree program for incarcerated men and women. Rutgers Newark formed NJ-STEP in 2012 after pulling together a handful of colleges—like TCNJ—that had extensive experience in the field of prisoner education. The others included Mercer County Community College, Rutgers-New Brunswick and Drew University. TCNJ professors teach college courses to eligible inmates as part of a deliberate attempt to help them make significant progress towards an Associates Degree.
Individual Tutoring: TCNJ volunteers provide individualized and small group instruction to inmates preparing to take the GED. This year, the NJ Department of Corrections awarded Bonner and IPTO a $30,000 grant to support its GED Tutoring Project, by bringing 20 to 30 volunteers to work with over 40 inmates.
Enrichment Classes: TCNJ professors and volunteers also teach non-credit enrichment courses to DOC students. These might mirror the content found in a regular College class, and provides inmates with an introduction to higher education.