Photo by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom, from North Park University’s program

IL-CHEP is a coalition of programs and educators dedicated to providing quality higher education opportunities for people who are incarcerated in Illinois. We strive to support our students as they build meaningful lives and prepare for a successful future in civic life.

Equally important, we encourage public dialogue and action to reduce our state’s and country’s reliance on incarceration. See our Priorities and Goals here.

Join upcoming IL-CHEP Events

Oct 6- Nov. 17, 2021 Education Across the Prison Walls: A Call for Reflection and Action

The higher education in prison landscape has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, both nationally and locally. While more college programs are reaching people incarcerated in Illinois prisons, the availability of programs remains uneven across the state. Students and educators continue to grapple with restrictions that challenge the liberatory potential of critical education. The impending return of Pell grants for incarcerated students raises exciting possibilities for growth, as well as concerns about how universities will view this resource and the types of programs they will develop. These tensions suggest that Illinois has reached a critical moment for higher education in prison. The decisions we make today will significantly shape higher education in prison for years to come.

In response to this critical moment, the Illinois Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (IL-CHEP) is convening Education Across the Prison Walls: A Call for Reflection and Action. This series of virtual panel discussions features educators, students, and organizers committed to expanding the reach of liberatory education in prisons and in our communities. Panelists will engage questions such as: What is the purpose of higher education in prison? What does education mean for individuals, communities, and society overall? What unique challenges and opportunities do students and educators face in engaging this work? What principles should guide our work? What strategies can we develop when our principles are challenged?

In addition to fostering critical reflection and discussion, Education Across the Prison Walls: A Call for Reflection and Action seeks to build strong relationships among educators, students, and organizers across the state that will foster collaboration and provide support in this critical moment for higher education in prison. The series is possible due to support from an Illinois Humanities Envisioning Justice grant.

Click on the links below to find out more information about events below:

Wed. Oct 6, 2021, 5:00-6:30 p.m. Freedom & Education
a conversation with Sandra Brown, Johari Jabir, and Cedric X Cal. Moderated by Chez Rumpf

Wednesday, Oct 20, 5:00-6:30 p.m. Critical Pedagogy and the Prison Classroom
a conversation with Heather Canuel, Cragg Hardaway, Ruth Nicole Brown, Jason LaFountain and John Zeigler. Moderated by Simone Waller

Wednesday, Nov 3, 5:00-6:30 p.m. Getting Classes Started
a conversation with Sharon Varallo, Sarah Ross, Vickie Reddy and Tim Barnett. Moderated by Chris Rivers

Wednesday, Nov 17, 5-6:30 p.m. Education for Everyone, Everywhere
a conversation with Rev. Courtney Carson, Gregg Gaither, James Kilgore, Pablo Mendoza and Colette Payne. Moderated by Sarah Ross