April 20, 2020 (Newark, NJ) -- The Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network (FICGN), a national nonprofit founded by formerly incarcerated scholars, officially announced Terrell A. Blount as its Director. The Newark native--who holds an MPA from Rutgers University and is also formerly incarcerated--said he hopes FICGN's work will change negative perceptions and attitudes toward offering higher education in U.S. prisons.
“We have some brilliant members in our network who are contributing to social change, innovation in the private sector, law and politics, and many other fields...and most began their transformation as college students in prison. It is important that those who share that experience remain connected and support one another in our respective work, as we journey to end stigma while also inspiring those still on the inside."
FICGN—which began as a Facebook group in 2014 and more recently evolved into a national 501(c)(3) membership organization—says its mission is to “promote the education and empowerment of formerly incarcerated people through a collective community”. According to its website, the network has over 1,000 members spanning across 44 U.S. states, with additional members in Australia, Canada, France, Guatemala, and South Korea.
FICGN’s co-founder and board president Chris Beasley says he’s excited about Blount heading the organization. “When we considered who would be the person to lead FICGN in expanding our reach and developing the organization’s brand, Terrell had the unanimous support from our board.”
Terrell previously worked for the Vera Institute of Justice, assisting college and prison partnerships under the Second Chance Pell pilot, which has produced nearly 600 incarcerated graduates since its inception in 2016. His stops at prisons across the country speaking with incarcerated students increased his awareness of the need for such an organization. He now serves as Program Officer of Higher Education in Prison at the Laughing Gull Foundation, a foundation that supports increasing access to and improving delivery of accredited college courses in prison in the US South.
“Students in prison often ask about what opportunities await once they’re released or what are the chances someone will hire them with a felony, and I always point to FICGN. Our members are proof that your story does not have to end with incarceration, and my hope is that with each success story, we can help society see that we all are exceptional, and no singular person is an exception to the rule.”
The Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network (FICGN) is a 501(c)(3) that promotes the education and empowerment of formerly incarcerated people through a collective community. With over 1,000 members in over 40 U.S. states, FICGN seeks to connect every formerly incarcerated person with a college degree and acts as an incubator of talent, continued transformation, and freedom through post-secondary education completion. Click here to donate to a growing movement of professionals who have found liberation through education.
For more information on FICGN, contact Chris Beasley at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.