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Why education for the formerly incarcerated?

E3MC Engaging Educating Empowering Means ChangeFounded in 2012, Manhattan College’s Engaging, Educating, Empowering Means Change (E3MC) Program is a college-in-jail program that aims to:

  • Expand access to higher education within communities impacted by the criminal justice system
  • Reduce recidivism rates
  • Address inequities within our MC community
  • Model how access to higher education can offer solutions to the issues of inequality we see everyday

What We Do

The E3MC Program is a multi-partner initiative that offers free college level courses to those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated in New York City. We draw on Manhattan College’s powerful Lasallian values; including Respect for All People, Quality Education, Inclusive Community, and Concern for the Poor and Social Justice. With our ample range of academic experts and our liberal arts based curriculum, the E3MC Program demonstrates our hope for a society in which everyone has the possibility to succeed.

The E3MC office is situated in New York City where the majority of New York State’s prison and jail population returns upon release. Students who want to continue their education are given the guidance and support they need to succeed after they are released. In collaboration with our students and community partners, we also provide a connective hub aimed at redefining life after and beyond incarceration.

Jail Education

Founded in 2012 by Andrew Skotnicki, the program demonstrates how alternate pathways such as a higher education opportunity can help reduce recidivism rates and address the social problems of mass incarceration within some of New York City’s most underserved communities.

Given the nature of the jail populations and the unpredictability of each person's release, students are only required to take a 3 credit course while incarcerated in one of our partnering facilities. This means once these 3 credits are completed, they may begin their degree on campus as soon as they are released.

We offer a bachelor's degree in any of the majors offered to Manhattan College students. The E3MC Program offers full circle resources and services to students after incarceration.

Quick Facts

  • 10-20 students are enrolled each semester
  • 171 formerly incarcerated people have earned transferable MC credits.

Post-Release Student Services

Our program prides itself on how small and personal we are; meaning we are able to hone in and offer individualized support plans for each student when they come to campus. We specifically aim to provide well rounded support to each student that will help them both on and off campus, aiding a successful transition home. To date we have been in contact with 171 students who have been released to the five boroughs New York City, and some to upstate New York and elsewhere.

Upon release, students have the option to begin their degree whenever they are ready. The opportunity does not expire, as we understand that timing is different for everyone.

Ways we provide financial assistance

The E3MC Program at Manhattan College is funded through external grant money and private donations, as well as federal and state aid. Our students receive full-tuition scholarships and other forms of financial aid to support their professional and educational goals post-release.

More often than not, people returning to society after periods of incarceration find themselves facing extreme barriers to education, employment, and housing. Our funding allows us to help students up and around some of these barriers which in turn helps prevent re-incarceration, homelessness, and the discriminatory practices many formerly incarcerated men and women find themselves facing. Financial support for our students includes everything from providing books to work-study opportunities. 

College while incarcerated

Faculty members travel weekly to these facilities with about 12 main campus students to teach in-person courses. The E3MC program operates at Rikers Island Department of Correction, Westchester Department of Correction, and Horizon Juvenile Center, in both men’s and women’s facilities located less than an hour from the Manhattan College campus in the Bronx, New York.

All students will complete an admissions application and be required to provide proof of GED or High School diploma before matriculation. Students are enrolled as Undecided while non-matriculated and are able to choose any degree offered at Manhattan College once matriculated.

Our curriculum

Our Bachelor’s Degree program at Manhattan College offers challenging college courses (3 credits each) taught in-person on campus. Upon arrival to campus post-release, our formerly incarcerated students will be integrated into classes with the rest of the student body, in line with our Lasallian mission to create an all-inclusive learning environment. In addition to working towards a B.A. or B.S. degree, our students have the option to participate in all of the clubs and organizations offered at Manhattan College. Seeing how many of these men and women have other priorities such as family and work, we offer an alternate pathway in our School of Continuing and Professional Studies, where students can take seven-week courses each semester, many of which are held in the evening.

Life on campus post-release

Once released, students from the E3MC program can visit the E3MC office on campus to discuss future plans around earning their degree and access to transition support.

Manhattan College’s program provides full-tuition scholarships, internships, and potential work-study opportunities for students coming out of Rikers Island and the jail in Westchester County to pursue their Bachelor’s degrees. Students from these facilities must notify the E3MC office of their plans to continue their education upon release.

What past students are saying

Devon GreeneLearn about Devon Greene's journey in the AM NY article "Bronx man’s journey to a Manhattan College degree started in Rikers"


No other class can make you learn the way this one did. You can memorize and learn some things for the purpose of passing the class, but no other class taught and shaped me the way this one did.

Former student speaking on the E3MC class while incarcerated, Class of 2018