Justice Scholars

Amen Ptah.
Amen Ptah, REJI Justice Scholar alum, UR Class of 2023 (MS, Marriage and Family Therapy)

The Rochester Education Justice Initiative (REJI) is developing the infrastructure to support formerly incarcerated scholars in the Rochester area as they continue their postsecondary education. Our goal is to provide welcoming opportunities for returning citizens to become students at Rochester and other area colleges.

We work with local academic and social institutions to coordinate resources for formerly incarcerated students seeking to continue their educations—whether that means completing a degree started in prison or advancing to a bachelor’s or graduate degree, full-time or part-time. By leveraging existing resources and expanding capacities at the University, and by fostering connections to other campuses, we are building a Monroe County "prison-to-college pipeline." 

Since fall 2020, REJI's Justice Scholars program has provided a cohort of students with resources to help them continue their educations at UR or at a collaborating institution. As of spring 2024, the program has seven active Justice Scholars and six alumni. REJI recruits new cohorts annually, and any formerly incarcerated individual with an associate degree is eligible to become a Justice Scholar.

Jesse Johnston, REJI Justice Scholar alum, UR Class of 2022 (BA, Political Science) and 2023 (MA, Philosophy)

To help ensure Justice Scholars' success as they pursue their degrees, REJI provides free laptops and other technology; coordinates resources like work-study or other employment, technology training, transportation, and dedicated on-campus workspaces; and offers stipends each fall and spring semester to underwrite expenses related to continuing education.

This program enables the University to serve a larger portion of the justice-involved population, deepen its commitment to the surrounding region, and make its campus more diverse and inclusive. Through these efforts, we hope to integrate and empower members of hyper-incarcerated communities, fill a desperate need in the Rochester area, and model the impact an R1 university can have with respect to post-prison education and decarceration work.

To learn more about the Justice Scholars program, email Precious Bedell, assistant director of community outreach, at pbedell@ur.rochester.edu.

To donate to the Justice Scholars program, visit our #RochesterGives donation portal. Your gift will help formerly incarcerated students access a world-class higher education, enrich our entire campus community, and help to make the University of Rochester a force for transformative justice locally and nationally.