SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Sept. 22, 2022) The nonprofit Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) recognized James Monteiro, executive director and founder of the Reentry Campus Program, as a TRIO Achiever. The TRIO Achiever award was given to Monteiro at COE’s national conference tonight for his service to formerly incarcerated people and his work to reform the prison system. The award honors the accomplishments after college of individuals who obtained a degree with the help of one of the federal TRIO programs for low-income, first-generation students. Monteiro credits the help he received from the Community College of Rhode Island’s Educational Opportunity Center while he was incarcerated for helping him take the first steps toward attending college.
Monteiro spent 20 years in and out of prisons, earning an associate’s degree in psychology while incarcerated. After release from prison he worked on his undergraduate degree from Roger Willams College while holding a part-time job and a full-time job. A public speaker who has been recognized for his community work, he also is founder and president of the Board of Directors for the non-profit Billy Taylor House in Providence. Billy Taylor House provides workforce development and enrichment opportunities for youth ages 15-21. The non-profit Reentry Campus Program, which Monteiro heads, helps current and formerly incarcerated people finish the post-secondary education they began while still imprisoned.
“Today, I consider myself a survivor who is truly blessed with another chance at life in a way that not only positively affects me but also affects everything around me. Today I am truly free, in every sense of the word,” Monteiro said.
“James Monteiro is a shining example of the many contributions of students enrolled in the federal TRIO programs,” said Council for Opportunity in Education President Maureen Hoyler. “He, and they, demonstrate the power of these federal programs to change lives. Tapping the potential of low-income and first-generation students doesn’t just help individuals. In Monteiro’s case, he has used his education, his experience and the chance that TRIO gave him to save many others.”
TRIO began with the Upward Bound program in 1964 as part of the War on Poverty to help low-income, first generation high school students in families where neither parent held a college degree. By the end of the 1960s, three signature TRIO programs – Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science, and Talent Search – were in place to help disadvantaged middle and high school students access and succeed in college. Today there are eight programs, still under the name TRIO, supporting American students from different backgrounds.
The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, veterans and students with disabilities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Palau, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host TRIO programs to help low-income students enter college and graduate specifically. Approximately 828,000 low-income students and students with disabilities are served each year.