Press Release

April 28, 2020
Cardin, Van Hollen, Hoyer Welcome Expansion of Federal Second Chance Pell Experiment to Maryland HBCUs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (all D-Md.) welcomed the selection of two of Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Bowie State University (BSU) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), to participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment by the U.S. Department of Education. This experiment, established under the Obama administration, allows eligible incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants to fund their postsecondary education.

“If we want to reduce recidivism and provide new opportunities for employment upon release from prison, we must do all that we can to integrate returning citizens into their communities. That starts with the Second Chance Pell Experiment providing incarcerated individuals access to high-quality educational opportunities like those offered by Maryland HBCUs,” said Senator Cardin, a longstanding supporter of Second Chance programs and sponsor of the Democracy Restoration Act (S. 1068) to restore the right to vote in federal elections for individuals released from incarceration. “I look forward to the successful participation of BSU and UMES in this experiment.”

“The evidence is clear — increased access to higher education and opportunity reduces recidivism rates,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I’m pleased to see two of Maryland’s great HBCUs, which are pillars of our communities, selected to strengthen this Second Chance pilot program. I was proud to participate in its launch at the Jessup Correctional Institution in 2015 and am pleased to see the program expanding in Maryland and beyond.”

“I’m pleased that Bowie State University has been selected to participate in the Second Chance Pell Experiment,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Marylanders who have served their time deserve a second chance, and this program has the potential to reduce recidivism and help reintegrate individuals back into their communities. I look forward to seeing the results of this partnership.”   

“Bowie State University’s award as a Second Chance Pell Grant location is a tremendous opportunity for us to increase the educational and career opportunities of individuals who are incarcerated.  We are committed to reducing recidivism by creating an educational pathway into the workforce and ensuring every individual is able to help build a strong community,” said Bowie State University President Dr. Aminta H. Breaux.

“The University of Maryland Eastern Shore values access and opportunity for all, so we see no better way to live our values than to take part in the Second Chance Pell program. We’re grateful to be a selected location to educate inmates at ECI,” said University of Maryland Eastern Shore President Dr. Heidi M. Anderson.

BSU and UMES were among 67 selected out of 180 institutions that applied to participate in the second round of the experiment. They will be the only HBCUs providing educational services in Maryland prisons, with BSU serving students at Maryland Correctional Institution Jessup (MCI Jessup), and UMES serving students at Eastern Correctional Institute (ECI). Maryland institutions including Anne Arundel Community College, Wor-Wic Community College, the University of Baltimore, and Goucher College were among the initial sites announced in 2016.

The Second Chance Pell Experiment, originally created in 2015 under the Obama administration, provides need-based Federal Pell Grants to individuals incarcerated in federal and state prisons. The grants allow incarcerated individuals to receive Federal funding to enroll in postsecondary programs offered by local colleges and universities or distance learning providers. According to a recent study by the Vera Institute of Justice, more than 4,000 credentials—including postsecondary certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees—have been awarded to Second Chance Pell students over the past three years, including from the four Maryland institutions currently participating in the Second Chance Pell Experiment.