What happens when BPI alumni return home from prison?
Returning home from prison presents an extraordinary number of legal and bureaucratic hurdles. For BPI alumni, preparation for reentry begins inside prison with their decision to apply to college, and builds through years of intensive academic engagement and advising. As they leave prison, alumni join an extensive network of staff, partners, and most importantly, fellow graduates who provide critical support to navigate life post-release and build personally-meaningful futures in New York City, the Capital Region of New York, and beyond.
“Learning to code made me employable; learning history made that matter.”
Schools where BPI alumni continue their education
City University of New York Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York University
Where BPI alumni work
Adams Buckner Advisors
Bard Prison Initiative
Bronx Defender Services
Center for Community Alternatives
The New School
New York City Department of Health
Philadelphia Community Bail Fund
By The Numbers
BPI fellowships and internships
BPI’s fellowship programs represent an opportunity for formerly incarcerated professionals to deepen their knowledge and prepare for leadership positions in research, policy, and practice in their communities. For BPI alumni, it creates a bridge from curricular specializations through coursework taken while incarcerated to career development pathways upon returning home.
Public Health Fellowship
In prison, Public Health is a central feature of the BPI curriculum. In New York City, the BPI Public Health Fellowship engages formerly incarcerated women and men in critical discussions about health equity and neighborhood revitalization. The Fellowship combines academic study, professional development, and job placement as alumni pursue careers in Public Health.
Sustainability and Community Engagement
Sustainability and Community Engagement Fellows design and implement projects aligned with the foundational ideas and practical skills required to (1) recognize the ways we are inextricably connected to each other and the world around us, including built and natural systems, and; (2) promote personal and community improvement related to public health promotion, food justice/apartheid, environmental justice, climate justice and sustainability.
The BPI Education Fellowship is dedicated to preparing alumni to become leading professionals working in core areas of education and schooling that affect the communities from which they come. Fellows will build skills integral to this field, receiving professional development support for their future educational and/or career endeavors.
Ford Foundation Associate Fellowship
At its headquarters in New York City, the Ford Foundation has established one-year paid Business Associate Fellowships for BPI alumni. The fellowships provide Associates the option of spending their year in three-month rotations among the IT, finance, communications, and human resources departments or dedicating the entire year to one of those four departments.
“What if the person we thought was the problem is actually the solution?”
—Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney
BPI in Alumni in the Community
Darren Mack is a prominent organizer and leader in New York actively engaged in the #CloseRikers campaign. In 2020, Darren Co-Founded and is Co-Director of Freedom Agenda, a member-led project, dedicated to organizing people and communities directly impacted by incarceration to achieve decarceration and system transformation. Among other awards, JustLeadership USA (JLUSA) honored Darren with its Emerging Leadership Award and featured him as a speaker in 2016 alongside Glenn Martin, John Legend, and then Speaker of the NYC Council, Melissa Mark Viverito. Darren is also the recipient of a prestigious fellowship from the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Community Organizing Institute.
Since 2022, BPI has worked under the leadership of Upstate Project Lead Shawn Young ’19 to develop a new infrastructure to support BPI alumni returning home to the update region of New York State. Young works with a network of peers and BPI alumni to cultivate connections across community resources, service organizations, and employers to ensure that people returning home, whether in the early days of their transition home or taking next steps as they pursue professional development, are fully supported and connected.
Acknowledging the lack of transitional housing in New York’s Westchester County, Pamela Zimba ’17 founded The Lilac House, a safe and stable residence for formerly incarcerated women. Beyond housing, Pamela is building a supportive community and connecting them with area resources. The Lilac House is a member of Susan Burton’s A New Way of Life Safe Housing Network.