History

Since 2015, the Rochester Education Justice Initiative (REJI) has provided higher education opportunities for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in the Rochester, New York, area. 

Founded as the “Rochester Prison Education Project” with the support of the College (the University of Rochester’s undergraduate division), REJI initially recruited and sponsored Rochester instructors to teach courses through the Cornell Prison Education Program and Medaille College at Albion.

In 2019, REJI partnered with SUNY Genesee Community College (GCC) to establish a new associate degree program at Groveland Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison for adult males. In 2021, REJI partnered again with GCC to enhance an existing associate degree program at Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum-security state prison for adult males.

REJI college program students in a classroom

Through REJI, University of Rochester faculty and graduate students, as well as faculty from other area colleges and universities, have taught more than 60 credit-bearing courses across a range of humanistic and STEM disciplines to more than 150 students at five state prisons: Groveland, Attica, Five Points, Auburn, and Albion. As of spring 2022, REJI enrolls more than 60 students across our degree-granting programs at Groveland and Attica. REJI’s college programs have operated continuously—and have even expanded—during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2020, REJI inaugurated the Justice Scholars program, which provides financial support, technology, mentorship, and leadership opportunities to formerly incarcerated college and graduate students in the Rochester area.