Paroled to College

We envision a world where children are protected from the damaging, life-long effects of incarceration.


In the State of New Jersey, recent data and analyses suggest justice-involved juveniles have a 76% three-year recidivism rate. Data snapshots of longer timelines suggest that rate is even higher in a five and ten year sampling. Additionally, a significant percentage of students throughout our urban school districts are currently court-involved or precariously nearing justice-involvement. Given the data outlook for justice-involved youth in New Jersey, Paroled to College seeks to interrupt the flow of youth and young adults from our communities into the justice system. Research and our experience suggest that access to high-quality educational programs and institutions, particularly colleges and universities, dramatically improve life outcomes for incarcerated and other oppressed people. Additionally, the impact of dual credit early college programs on improving outcomes for at-promise and disengaged students from underserved communities across the United States has also been well documented. Paroled to College leverages the power of post-secondary education and a positive college experience to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and reduce juvenile recidivism. PTC partners with schools and school districts, colleges and universities, mission-aligned organizations and institutions that have expressed interest and demonstrated capacity to implement the PTC early college model. In 2017, Paroled to College partnered with the Talent Development Academy (TDA) at East Side High School in Newark to launch a dual-credit early college pilot for fifteen justice-involved and justice-risk students. TDA serves some of the most underserved students in the district through an innovative, personalized, student-interest driven, Deeper Learning instructional model. The inaugural cohort is participating in a college bridge course on the campus of Rutgers University in Newark this fall and will be enrolled in a dual credit Arts and Humanities course in the College of Arts and Sciences in spring 2018. Paroled to College has also partnered with SIFH Global to bring an innovative, interdisciplinary fitness and wellness curriculum to TDA. We are delighted at our students’ excitement, enthusiasm and progress as well as very preliminary indicators that validate PTC design assumptions and parameters.

The Paroled to College model is founded in these core tenets and guiding principles:

  • Early College is a powerful, motivational, hope-building, skill-developing mechanism for justice involved youth and at-promise students.
  • Personalized, student interest driven, project and inquiry based instructional models are particularly effective for re-engaging disconnected youth.
  • Peer mentoring programs delivered by Credible Messengers are particularly effective at “breaking through” where traditional mentoring has not.
  • At-promise youths have unique academic and non-academic, psycho-social and pragmatic needs that must be supported to ensure long-term academic success.
  • Every student will be matched to an industry mentor and internships unique to their interests. 
  • Credit-recovery and acceleration should be individualized, personalized, engaging and dynamic.
Paroled to College is a coalition of veteran K12 educators and university faculty, formerly incarcerated college students and alumni, strategists, activists and representatives from the business community. Members of the Paroled to College team are unapologetic with regard to their assessment of juvenile justice outcomes and united in their belief that the work of disrupting the flow of youth into the juvenile justice system is a moral and ethical imperative. They are uniquely positioned to positively affect outcomes for justice-involved and justice-risk youths using their own life stories and professional activities as motivating exemplars. Paroled to College was founded by Ms. Xenia Cox, a long-time education and social justice activist along with current and former Rutgers University Mountainview students Mr. Walter Fortson and Mr. Boris Franklin. Ms. Cox is a candidate in the Masters of Education program (2018) at Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. Mr. Walter Fortson is a Truman Scholar (2012), a graduate of Rutgers University and received his Masters in Criminology from Cambridge University. Mr. Boris Franklin is a persistent Dean’s List and Honors student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and Bachelors in Sociology candidate (2018). Boris recently collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author, Chris Hedges, in the writing of the much anticipated play “Caged”

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