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  • James Monteiro

Innovative Approach to Delivering Postsecondary Education in Prison

Updated: May 22

James Monteiro spent years bouncing in and out of the prison system before he earned a college degree and finally overcame his own internalized “once a convict, always a convict” mindset. He later went on to pursue a master’s degree and co-found the nonprofit Reentry Campus Program (RCP), which helps others facing similar obstacles. Working with the Rhode Island corrections system, Roger Williams University and numerous community-based organizations, RCP supports currently and formerly incarcerated learners in their work toward academic and career success. Ascendium has supported RCP’s recent work, including efforts to produce a program guide so that others might be inspired to replicate RCP’s model in their own cities and states.


RCP centers incarcerated learners and the knowledge they already bring to the table. It tailors learning support and courses to adult learners to help them accelerate their academic progress. It also uses prior learning assessment, a little-employed strategy in the postsecondary education in prison context, which allows learners to earn credits by demonstrating their mastery of academic subjects. But what does prior learning assessment look like in practice? And what other resources are available to help ensure incarcerated individuals experience successful reentry? Monteiro recently spoke with Ascendium about the inspiration behind RCP and the importance of prior learning assessment for incarcerated learners. The conversation is captured in the following clips.



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