Liz Holliday

Communications Specialist
Archive for May, 2016

May 2016: CCF Graduation Promo

CCF 2016 graduation

EIO Coalition Tells SUNY To Ban The Box

Just Change: Formerly Incarcerated People’s Conference Video

EIO Coalition Graduate March Action Video

Barbara Martinsons Tribute Video

Free City: EIO’s Pop-Up School Promo

The Huffington Post, We Must Ban the Box in Higher Education

When you are released from prison, the last thing you want to do is spend the rest of your life reliving the mistakes that put you away in the first place. I should know: when I got out of prison in 2001, I wanted nothing more than to go back to school, earn my degree, and get a job that would turn my life around.

Like most of the 95% of currently incarcerated individuals in this country who will one day be released, I hoped to move forward with my life, and to keep the often demoralizing and dehumanizing experience of incarceration far behind me.

Yet I found myself forced to constantly explain these mistakes as I faced questions about my criminal history on job, housing, and even college admission applications. These checkboxes asking me to self-disclose prior convictions weren’t just an annoyance – they threatened to derail my success and keep me from being the engaged citizen I longed to be.

The ability of these checkboxes to keep formerly incarcerated people from successfully reentering society is real – and that’s why US Secretary of Education John King announced new measures last week to “ban the box” on college applications. His smart reforms are ones we should all get behind.

The problem with the box is simple. For the nearly one in three working age adults in this country who have a criminal record, it means that at precisely the moment they’re trying to improve their lives through college education, they are reduced to nothing more than the sum of their past mistakes.

It’s no wonder that just being faced with the box drastically increases the likelihood that a person with a criminal history will not even finish the process out of fear of stigma, rejection, or sometimes a complicated or impossible set of supplemental requirements that come after the box has been checked.

In fact, a study looking at the State University of New York’s use of the box found that for every student rejected by SUNY admissions committees because of a felony conviction, 15 do not complete their applications due to the experience of facing the checkbox.

I, myself, was rejected after checking the box on a SUNY application, but thankfully was able to return to a school I had enrolled in prior to incarceration. In the end, I earned my degree – but imagine how many potential students are out there, and just aren’t so lucky.

We know that education is an effective tool for changing the trajectory of one’s life. I now run a non-profit that helps women with criminal justice histories go back to school and achieve a higher education; to date, the women of College & Community Fellowship have earned more than 300 degrees, and less than 2 percent have gone back to prison in our 16 years of operation.

It’s understandable that those not well versed in the issue would assume checkboxes protect public safety, but they don’t. Research shows that colleges that restrict access to students with criminal histories do not have demonstrably lower crime rates. In fact, colleges in the large California State University and City University of New York systems don’t even ask the question at all.

While more than 100 cities and counties in the United States have taken steps to “ban the box” on job applications, the idea of such a ban in higher education is only now picking up the momentum it deserves. The US Department of Educationis just the latest institution to question the box’s relevance on college applications, joining the New York State Bar Association, New York University officials, and students at NYU and SUNY.

After all, if we want people coming home to stay out of prison and engage in society, shouldn’t we be encouraging them to get an education, in order to better provide for themselves, their families, and their communities? Isn’t blocking access to education only stifling their potential, possibly forcing them back into old habits and behaviors?

Education increases self-esteem. It strengthens the critical thinking skills that help determine the differences between right and wrong. It helps to ensure higher paying employment, and decreases a person’s likelihood of returning to prison. In short, the transformative powers of education are real, well documented, and should not be withheld from anyone looking to better themselves or their position in life.

I applaud the US Department of Education supporting Americans looking for a second chance. Formerly incarcerated people in this country have served their time, and paid their debts; it’s time we allow every American equal access to the vital tools necessary to succeed.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-vivian-nixon/we-must-ban-the-box-in-hi_b_9996780.html

Ithaca Journal, Ban the box for students, too

When I was released from prison in 2001, a fresh start was all I wanted. But it was a simple question on most job and college applications that threatened to dismantle all of my plans for a successful, self-sufficient future far away from the criminal justice system.

I’m talking about “the box,” in which an applicant is forced to self-disclose any criminal convictions by checking a box before they have even had the chance to show their worth as a candidate. For the one in three working age adults who have a criminal history in this country, the box acts as a scarlet letter that turns a past offense into a life sentence.

Recently, Cornell’s Employee Assembly announced the university’s intention to “Ban the Box” by July 1, removing all criminal conviction questions from the preliminary job applications. Cornell joins the City of Ithaca, New York City and more than 100 other cities and counties that have adopted “ban the box” legislation.

I applaud Cornell for banning the box for future employees of the university, but why isn’t it also banning the box on its own admission application? Cornell is one of more than 600 universities nationwide that utilize the Common Application, an application that still uses criminal history check boxes.

A 2015 study done by the Education from the Inside Out Coalition and the Center of Community Alternatives showed that for every applicant rejected by SUNY because of a felony conviction, 15 do not complete their applications due to fear of stigma or a complicated, sometimes impossible set of supplemental requirements. Further, there isno empirical evidence that shows any relationship between asking questions about criminal history and crime on campus — just ask the California State University andCity University of New York systems, since neither asks the questions.

Momentum is growing across the state to ban the box on college applications and remove all unnecessary barriers to higher education for students with criminal histories. Hundreds of students have taken action at New York University and SUNYcampuses this semester, and university leadership is taking notice.

As the executive director of a nonprofit organization that helps formerly incarcerated women achieve a higher education, I can proudly tell you that after 15 years and more than 300 degrees, less than 2 percent of College and Community Fellowship students have gone back to prison. That is compared with the 40 percent of formerly incarcerated New Yorkers who end up back in prison within three years of release.

Education has a proven link to lowering recidivism, increasing self-confidence and empowering individuals with the critical thinking skills necessary to come to terms with their pasts, while focusing on a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

It’s time that institutions like Cornell stand up for prospective students with a criminal justice past, and realize that every person in this country should have equal access to an education.

http://www.ithacajournal.com/story/opinion/2016/05/06/guest-viewpoint-ban-box/84019388/

The Huffington Post, Criminal records create more than financial barriers to higher education

Data shows education to be one of the most effective ways to keep people out of prison or from returning to prison. Unfortunately, many college applicants with a criminal record face myriad barriers to accessing the education they need to begin building a new life. By eliminating criminal history disclosure requirements on college applications, colleges and universities can actually help end mass incarceration and reduce recidivism across the United States.

Nationally nearly 44 percent of people who have reentered society from prison are likely to return to prison within three years of release, but when they are enrolled and engaged in education, those numbers plummet. Only 13.7 percent of formerly incarcerated people enrolled in an associate degree program return to prison within three years, and the more they study, the lower those numbers get; 5.6 percent for baccalaureate students and 1 percent for master’s candidates.

While in the past, advocacy efforts have focused primarily on reinstating eligibility for financial assistance such as federal Pell grants and New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants, which were denied to incarcerated students starting in 1994 as part of misguided “tough on crime” policies; there are several other obstacles college and university administrations could alleviate through changes to the application and admissions process.

One such challenge is the check box on college applications that requires applicants to disclose their criminal history. A 2010 study by the Center for Community Alternatives, a lead organization of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, found that of 273 higher education institutions, 66% reported that they collect information about applicants’ criminal justice history, while only 40% of those schools trained staff on how to interpret those results.

Further, a separate study looking into the box across the State University of New York (SUNY) system showed that 2 out of every 3 applicants who checked the box, never completed their application; likely due either to a fear of stigma or to complicated, and sometimes impossible sets of supplemental requirements ranging from rap sheets, letters from correctional officers, parole boards, etc. This means that for every student rejected by SUNY admissions committees because of a felony conviction, 15 do not complete their applications due to attrition.

Currently, criminal justice policy makers and thought leaders are examining the racial disparities in both our criminal justice system and the ways laws are enforced. Because of this, education policies that create additional barriers for those with criminal records disproportionately and unjustly impact people of color.

So what can college administrators do?

First and foremost: Ban the box. Removing from college applications the requirement to disclose one’s criminal record gives these applicants a fairer shot at being considered for admission based on their academic merit and other skills. Secondly, requiring a letter from a corrections officer or requiring that an applicant participate in a community supervision program inserts college administrators into the criminal justice system where they don’t belong.

Education is the surest way to keep someone out of prison; which is why the Education from the Inside Out Coalition urges state legislators to pass the Fair Access To Education Act (S969/A3363) in New York, which would ban the box in college admissions for private and public institutions throughout the state.

However this is not the job of legislators alone, it is critical in the meantime, that college administrators acknowledge the many ways we can work within our institutions to remove barriers to higher education for those who need it most. Let’s make this dream of equal opportunity, safer streets and smarter citizens a reality and in doing so, strengthen the diverse experiences and backgrounds of our student bodies.

The Huffington Post, The True Way to Reform is to Educate: Reinstate Pell for Incarcerated Students

Criminal Justice Reform has been on the minds and tongues of many this year, making what was once seen as a controversial subject become a more common talking point on both sides of the aisle. Politicians like Hillary Clinton, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Conservative Senator Rand Paul and even Oscar winner John Legend are using their voices to call for change in a broken system.

While important movements like the Black Lives Matter campaign continue to keep criminal justice reform in the forefront of our minds, and on the front page of our papers, it is a new move by one congresswoman that has potential to be the real game changer.

Thursday afternoon US Representative Donna Edwards of Maryland, along with the support of five of her colleagues in the House, introduced the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, which would re-grant access to Pell grants for qualified incarcerated students across the country.

Offering Pell grants to incarcerated students is not a new idea. Up until the 1990s, incarcerated students in prison had access to Pell grants, which allowed more than 300 in-prison college programs to thrive in our country. When a “tough on crime” wave hit Washington under the Clinton administration it stopped in-prison post-secondary education programs across the country dead in their tracks. The culprit: the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which banned Pell grants to currently incarcerated individuals, and immediately crippled the once thriving in-prison college programs, diminishing them to merely 12 by 2005.

A big mistake, one even Clinton himself has recently admitted, given the myriad of data that shows in-prison education has a direct link to lowered recidivism, and lessens the stress on public services upon reentry due to the ability to qualify for better jobs. Not to mention an increase in mental health and quality of life in the process.

America has more documented incarcerated individuals than any other country in the world. Forty percent of which are released only to re-offend and end up back in prison within three years. This is largely due to the fact that few programs exist in prisons that properly prepare incarcerated citizens to face the challenges of life on the outside.

As a nation, we spend roughly $68 billion a year on corrections, an estimated $39 billion of which comes directly from the taxpayer. What Representative Edwards understands, is that re-granting federal assistance to qualified incarcerated students will help reduce costs, by educating individuals, so that those involved in the criminal justice system exit with the necessary tools to set and achieve goals that will keep them out of prison and place them on a more positive path.

I see this truth everyday in the lives of the women I work with at College and Community Fellowship, a New York based nonprofit I run, which helps formerly incarcerated women enroll in and complete college and graduate school.

Time and time again I have heard professors praise students who have made the choice to go college during incarceration or post-incarceration, calling them the best in their class. I’ve watched as our women go out into the world, and see how society views a person with a criminal history record. Our students and alumnae are fully integrated into society, and ready to take back the future for themselves and their families.

Punishment does not lead to reform. If the goal is to punish, then punishment works. But the true way to reform is to educate and provide opportunity. More so, to offer a quality education, one that makes incarcerated men and women utilize critical thinking skills, which will ultimately help cut down on our prison populations across the country. Representative Edwards knows this, and if recent articles are to be believed, President Obama’s Administration does too. In addition to Edwards’ Act, it appears the Department of Education may soon announce an experimental access to Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals as well.

These are exciting times! Our nation’s leaders are finally coming to terms with the mistake of using the criminal justice system as a blunt weapon to deal with social problems. The nation is learning that our prison system must be severely reduced and that, to the extent that the prison system exists, it doesn’t have to be a dehumanizing experience; it can be a place where we help build up character, teach critical thinking skills, and encourage people to set goals for the future. Because let’s face it, if you really want people to escape poverty, addiction, crime and all the other social issues that keep them marginalized, you’ve got to create policies that support that vision. This includes equipping them with the intellectual skill-set that education brings.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-vivian-nixon/the-true-way-to-reform-is_b_7422166.html

City Limits, Do Inmates Deserve a ‘Do Over’ After Prison?

We can all think of a time when we’ve been given a second chance; it could have been from a friend, a family member, or even our boss. For me, getting a second chance to go to college helped me recover from addiction and kept me out of prison. A college education can be a powerful do-over for people coming out of prison. New York State should make it easier for more incarcerated people to turn their lives around with a degree, just like I did.

I grew up in a normal, middle class home until I fell into the wrong crowd as a teen. I started drinking and doing drugs and when my behavior became too much, my parents kicked me out but agreed to care for my young daughter.

I took on a series of low-wage jobs to support my addictions and was arrested a few times. I never served much time, until I was involved in a raid that landed me two to four years in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. I was also three weeks pregnant and my baby’s father had been killed in the raid.

Doing time while pregnant was eye-opening. I wasn’t on my own anymore. I was worried that something would happen to my son while I was pregnant and what our lives would be like when I got out.

I was determined to make things work after prison but the world outside was still a challenge. I struggled with alcohol abuse and because I’d never been to college, I lacked the skills for anything but low-wage work.

It wasn’t until I learned about the College & Community Fellowship that I got a real second chance. They helped me realize that it wasn’t my felony standing in my way – it was my lack of education. CCF helped me get the support I needed to apply to college and start improving my life.

Today, I am working towards a degree in social work from Lehman College and hope to pursue a master’s in social work after graduation. In my current job, I work with clients who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, and other conditions to help them get the treatment they need to also have a fair shot at improving their lives.

Second chances are critical. That’s why CCF is launching the #MyDoOver Campaign this month, to allow everyone to share times they were given a second chance to succeed. My achievements so far are living proof of the power of do-overs. I’ll always be thankful that I had another shot.

While CCF’s programs helped me, there are thousands more women in prison who won’t get the same opportunity. Because of laws preventing incarcerated students from accessing federal Pell and New York State Tuition Assistance Program grants, in-prison education programs are few and far between. Without access to education and the skills and confidence it provides, even women who try their hardest can find themselves back in prison – and many do. Nationally, around two-thirds of formerly incarcerated people reoffend within three years of their release. In contrast, only two percent of women who go through CCF’s programs recidivate.

Letting people out of prison may seem like a second chance, but it’s hardly a fair shot if they don’t also have the tools to make it. It’s time we repealed barriers to in-prison education programs, so that even people who aren’t as lucky as I am have a real chance at a do-over.

www.citylimits.org/2015/11/06/do-inmates-deserve-a-do-over-after-prison/

The Hill, Education from the inside out

In 2001, I was released from prison after serving three-and-a-half years in various facilities in New York State. I was a college dropout with limited prospects. While incarcerated, I had tried to continue my education, and was even accepted into a privately funded college program, but I was transferred to a facility without educational opportunities before taking a single class. I was depressed, had low self-esteem, and was ashamed of my situation.

My experience is just one example of the devastating effect the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill has had on tens of thousands of incarcerated students. By making it unlawful to award Pell Grants to incarcerated people, funding for in-prison education was taken away from 25,000 students and programs became dependent on private donations. Incarcerated students who were eager to learn and turn their lives around could find the resources they needed for their education cut short at any moment.

Now, twenty years later, this wrong has been temporarily corrected thanks to the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice’s Experimental Sites Initiative, which will provisionally restore Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students. The ESI will provide grant funding to college programs that help increase access to in-prison education for students, who will undoubtedly benefit from tuition assistance and a second chance to transform their lives.
Federal Pell Grants have provided higher education for more than 60 million students across the country since 1972. At its height, Pell Grants awarded to incarcerated students made up only one-tenth of 1% of total grants awarded – making this program more cost-effective than re-incarceration. However, the 1994 Crime Bill reduced the number of in-prison education programs nationwide from 111 to just 11. Each year, only a small fraction of potential students receive these few, highly competitive seats funded by private organizations, while thousands are left without an education.

When I was released from prison, the first call I made was to my parole officer. The second was to the College and Community Fellowship, a nonprofit organization that helped me get a college education and get started on the right track. I went on to earn a bachelors degree, began my graduate studies, and eventually became the Executive Director of the same organization that turned my life around.

Sadly, my story is far from the norm, and most incarcerated people do not receive the same support I had. Often lacking education, more than two-thirds of incarcerated people are re-arrested for a new offense within three years of their release. This is bad for incarcerated people, bad for public safety, and bad for the families and communities who could use the economic contribution of hardworking members of society.

That is why JustLeadershipUSA President Glenn Martin and I co-founded the Education from the Inside Out coalition, which works to expand access to Pell Grants and other educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals. Access to education is not a privilege, but a human right. Taking Pell Grants from incarcerated students deprives an already vulnerable population the chance to develop critical thinking skills and improve their lives.

Luckily, support for sensible criminal justice reform grows each day. The Obama Administration’s ESIs will not only help track what effects education will have on incarcerated students following their release, but will inevitably prove what those of us who work with incarcerated people have always known – that postsecondary education in prison is the most successful and cost-effective method to prevent crime and increase public safety.

This move is one step of many that needs to be taken to secure lasting Pell Grant funding for incarcerated students in our country. In May, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) introduced the Restoring Education And Learning (REAL) Act to Congress, which would permanently repeal the ban on Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students. While the EIO is an important first step, passing the REAL Act will provide the long-lasting change our justice system needs.

The late Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), for whom Pell Grants are named, once said, “The strength of the US is not the gold in Ft. Knox or the weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total of education and the character of people.” While the passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill weakened our criminal justice system, today we are beginning to build strength. Let’s live up to Senator Pell’s vision and ensure that incarcerated students have the resources they need to help themselves and become part of a more powerful America.

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/education/251000-education-from-the-inside-out

The Huffington Post, Let’s Get Real: Prison Is No Place for Elitism

Two weeks ago, Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) introduced the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act to the floor. The REAL Act would reinstate Pell grant eligibility for currently incarcerated students. The prison education world has been abuzz with this news, and some important questions have arisen: what does this mean for already-existing prison education programs? More importantly, what does it mean for the nearly 2.3 million people in correctional facilities who might want to pursue an education?

The academic community has raised several valid concerns. As someone who has been incarcerated, I’d like to address these concerns, which I believe to be well intentioned, but ultimately misguided.

One huge concern has been that lower-quality educational programs will actively exploit incarcerated students.

By arguing that incarcerated students will be treated unfairly if Pell grants return to prison, we are ignoring the broader trend of abuse, in which institutions often exploit Pell-eligible students on the outside as well. These institutions prey on poor communities and communities of color, and at College and Community Fellowship(CCF) where we support formerly incarcerated women who are in college; we’ve seen evidence of tremendous exploitation outside of prison. We can correct the broader trend of unethical practices — namely, schools that offer poor education at a high cost. These schools should not be accredited or eligible for Pell funds. By addressing the trend instead of focusing on the possibility of in-prison exploitation, we solve the problem both inside and outside of correctional facilities. The quality of education should be regulated both inside AND out to qualify for Pell funding.

The problematic issue here is the practice of dealing with in-prison students in a highly specialized way — restricting higher education access to a few elite programs further alienates those on the inside from the norms of society. Targeting corruption in prison education programs without targeting it elsewhere only serves to limit options for an already-disadvantaged population without solving any wider problems.

It’s incredibly important to pay close attention to quality education on the inside. Having been inside myself — a high school graduate stuck in a prison with no post-secondary options — I argue that any attempt to create broader access to programming would be welcomed by those who currently have no educational alternatives.

Another concern is that correctional facilities might soon be filled with low-quality educational programming, with staff ill-equipped to give the support and care that the vulnerable prison population needs.

It would be wonderful if everyone qualified for Bard Prison Initiative or other intense liberal arts programs, but we know that many will not. Those who do not qualify for a Bard-caliber program could easily do well in a less rigorous community college program. Furthermore, not everyone has an interest in the contemplative life. Some just want to learn how to be a Computer Technician or gain some other marketable skill because they feel it’s their best chance of escaping lifelong poverty.

That option should be readily available. If one of education’s main concerns is helping students forge a sense of individuality, introspection and self-determination, then the choice to limit educational programs in prison as an attempt to “do what’s best for them” proves antithetical to our ultimate goals. Just as students on the outside participate in educational programs of all levels, incarcerated students should also have a wide range of options — every program should not be exclusive. While quality must not be ignored, we should agree on what we mean by “quality” and not confuse it for elitism. I would also like to point to this article, written by a man enrolled in an educational program at Attica: another voice on the inside arguing that any expansion of such programming would be beneficial for the prison population as a whole.

A third major concern is that the Departments of Correction will play a role in these programs that will take away valuable input power from the educators themselves.

Departments of correction will definitely need technical assistance from the academic community in order to form institutional partnerships that provide quality programming of all types. Hopefully, we can form partnerships that stabilize practices and lay out clear guidelines and expectations for the relationship between correctional officers and educators.

This kind of partnership would not allow undue power to be placed in the hands of correctional officers or make the role of educators more punitive than educational. This partnership would also ensure that all participating entities are on the same page about the state of educational programs now and in the future: if that means that departments of correction make independent partnerships with colleges to run programs, and those programs respond to real gaps in need, then we should support that process by holding everyone accountable.

The introduction of this bill marks a defining moment in criminal justice reform. The practical role of education in helping those incarcerated escape the cycles of marginalization, crime and poverty is as large as its transformative ability to foster critical thought, self-reflection and a stronger sense of self for those in the classroom. When we account for the irrefutable correlation between lack of education and rates of imprisonment, we must take every opportunity we can to provide educational programming for those who need it most. That means a wide range of programs, broader financial aid eligibility and a persistent, long-term commitment to improving educational access for all.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-vivian-nixon/lets-get-real-prison-is-n_b_7468640.html

October 2015, My Do Over Campaign

DianaDoOverAmyDoOverTiheba Do OverSamShayDoOver

Summer 2015: Twitter Chat Promos

TurnOnTheTapPromoTwitterChatExample

August 17, 2015: Back To School Block Party Promo

BackToSchoolBlockParty

May 2, 2016: Capital Tonight Appearance

Vivian on CT

Press

Below is a list of Media Hits I have helped to secure through my work with College & Community Fellowship and The Education from the Inside Out Coalition since I began in April of 2015:

10/19/2016, El Diario NY, Excarcelados luchan por llegar a la universidad 

10/17/2016, Palm Beach Daily News, Palm Beach groups unveil speakers with topics, from current affairs to prison 

10/14/2016, Reentry Central, Prison to College Pipeline Goes National With New Program 

10/07/2016, PBS’ To The Contrary, Baby Boomers & The Election; Incarceration Women 

10/05/2016, Ithaca.com, SUNY Won’t Judge Your Past Anymore

10/03/2016, SocialistWorker.org, Marching Against New York’s Rikers 

09/29/2016, The Huffington Post, Banning, Moving, Abolishing the Box: Whatever It Takes For Educational Access For All 

09/29/2016, Inside Philanthropy, Who’s Helping the Formerly Incarcerated Lead the Fight for Criminal Justice Reform? 

09/28/2016, BayView National Black Newspaper, Former Prisoners Are Leading The Fight Against Mass Incarceration 

9/20/2016, Capital Tonight, Advocates Praise SUNY for No Longer Asking Applicants for Conviction History 

9/17/2016, The Intercept, Former Prisoners Are Leading The Fight Against Mass Incarceration 

9/15/2016, Cornell Chronicle, Iscol lecturer to challenge mass jailing in Sept. 27 talk 

9/15/2016, Business Insider, The largest public university system in the US banned a type of question from its application that could affect thousands of prospective students 

9/14/2016, The New York Times, SUNY To Stop Asking Applicants About Felony Convictions 

9/14/2016, The Atlantic, The Question Some Public Universities Will No Longer Ask 

9/14/2016, Buffalo News, SUNY to eliminate checkbox on felony convictions from student applications 

8/24/2016, PIX11, Criminal Justice and Education Communities collide for CCF Back to School Harlem Block Party 

8/16/2016, Riverdale Press: CCF Back to School Harlem Block Party 

8/16/2016, MommyPoppins: CCF Hosts Back to School Harlem Block Party 

8/16/2016, CityLimits.org, Event Calendar: CCF’s Back to School Harlem Block Party 

8/15/2016, WCBS, New York Events: CCF’s Back to School Harlem Block Party 

08/04/2016, The Huffington Post, The State of Women in Prison

07/14/2016, Refinery29, What prison getting out of prison really need

07/08/2016, Unlocking Potential Blog, The importance of education for incarcerated women

07/05/2016, CampusReform.org, Ban the Box, Good for criminals, bad for diversity, study shows

7/01/2016, The Huffington Post, Permanent Pell In Prison: More than Twenty Years….

6/28/2016, WHCR: Beyond Walls: Raise the age (link unavailable)

06/26/2016, The Inquisitr, President Barack Obama Helps Prisoners Obtain Pell Grants Via Controversial Pilot Program

06/24/2016, USA Today, Pell grants for prisoners: Obama to give inmates a second chance at college 

06/22/2016, Black Enterprise, This woman went from Prison to Executive Leader of a Major Organization

06/17/2016, Fusion, The Graduation You Haven’t Attended This Year

06/13/2016, The New York Times, New York Today: Solidarity With Orlando

06/10/2016, DNA Info, Formerly Incarcerated Women Celebrate Second Chances With College Degrees 

06/08/2016, Bustle Magazine, How This Nonprofit Director Gives Women With Criminal Convictions A Second Chance

06/05/2016, El Diario, Aumenta el numero de universitarios latinos 

05/19/2016, Mic.com, “Abolish the Box” Campaigns Says Its Criminal Record Question on College Apps Needs to Go

05/17/2016, The Huffington Post, Why We Need To Ban The Box On College Applications

05/11/2016, University Herald, College Applicants with Criminal Records Should Be Allowed to Pursue A  Higher Education 

05/10/2016, Business Insider, The Department of Education is urging colleges to remove one type of question from their applications–and it could affect 70 million prospective students 

05/09/2016, Inside Higher Ed, Moving Past Checking the Box 

05/09/2016, Fusion, How ‘Ban the Box’ criminal justice movement is moving into American Universities

05/07/2016, The Root, One Woman’s Crusade to Ban the Box on College Applications

05/06/2016, Ithaca Journal, Ban the box for students, too

05/03/2016, The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornellians Discuss Banning The Box On College Admissions Applications

05/02/2016, Capital Tonight, ‘Banning the Box’ in Higher Education

04/29/2016, The Atlantic, ‘Ban the Box’ Goes to College

04/27/2016, WCHR, Beyond Walls: Unlocked Radio- Tutors who go into prison to help incarcerated students learn 

04/25/2016, Worcester Telegram, Formerly incarcerated women teach through theater at Quinsigamon

04/25/2016, The New York Times, Convicts and College Aid 

04/18/2016, TimesUnion, Letter: Ban criminal box on college forms

04/11/2016, Re-entry Central, In the Spotlight: The College & Community Fellowship Helps Formerly Incarcerated Women Obtain College Degrees (subscription required).

04/06/2016, The Huffington Post, Criminal records create more than financial barriers to higher education

03/30/2016, NYU Local, Unbox NYU Advocates Rally in Washington Square Park 

03/30/2016, WHCR Radio, EIO’s monthly radio program Beyond Walls appears on Unlocked Radio

03/29/2016, DNA Info, Formerly Incarcerated NYU Administrator Wants School to ‘Ban the Box’

03/10/2016, The Courier Sun, It’s Time to ‘Ban the Box’ in Higher Education

03/04/2016, WCBS 880 Radio, CCF’s Theater for Social Change to Perform at Beyond the Bars Conference at Columbia University (clip unavailable)

02/24/2016, The New York Times, For Inmates, a Step Up With College

02/24/2016, WHCR 90.3FM, Beyond Walls: College Debt, and For Profit Colleges (clip unavailable)

02/18/2016, Market Wired, Bryan Stevenson, Gloria Steinem and Anthony Mcgill to Receive 2016 John Jay Medal for Justice

02/10/2016, US Department of Education, My Brother’s Keeper: Second Chance Pell 

01/27/2016, The Washington Post, WATCH Coffee @ WaPo: Out of Jail, Into Society

01/10/2016, The Wall Street Journal, Cuomo Plans College Classes for Inmates

12/26/2015, The Post Star, Letter to the editor: Not every student can receive grant

12/22/2015, Christian Science Monitor, In Criminal Justice, Signs of a shift toward compassion

12/21/2015, The New York Times, Cuomo’s Pardon Plan for Youthful Offenders Draws Praise, Questions and Concerns 

12/21/2105, WNYW-NY (FOX 5), Vivian Nixon interview on Cuomo’s new Youthful Offender Policy

12/17/2015, The Huffington Post, Leaders With Criminal Histories Should Be Included in Reform Debate

12/15/2015, Equality Indicator, Just Change Engaging Communities to Create Change

12/06/2015, El Diario, Activistas Piden Education En Las Prisones

12/03/2015, Times Union Capitol Confidential, Coalition calls on governor to restore eligibility for inmates

11/25/2015, The New York Times, A Criminal Record and College 

11/24/2015, TruthOut, Higher Education Is a Key to Decarceration: Let’s Pass the REAL Act 

11/20/2015, New York Foundation: Big Ideas, StoryCorps Podcast series

11/07/2015, The New Orleans Advocate: New Orleanian among group successfully pushing for policy changes to benefit former prisoners

11/06/2015, CityLimits.org: Do Inmates Deserve a ‘Do Over’ After Prison? 

11/05/2015, The Washington Post: Obama, Congress push effort to ease hiring of former felons

11/03/2015, MarketWatch: ‘Ban the box’ makes former criminals more employable

11/03/2015, Refinery29: What You Don’t Know About Life After Prison

11/03/2015, The Justice: “Letters” explores incarceration of women of color 

11/03/2015, Metro: 15 years in, CCF fights to increase access to education in prisons

11/02/2015, The Guardian: Obama to announce executive action to help prisoners rejoin society

10/29/2015, Refinery29: How One Woman Made It Out Of Prison And Into College 

10/28/2015, WHCR Radio: Beyond Walls

10/26/2015, Metro: New York City has officially ‘banned the box’ for job applicants

10/24/2015, Cosmopolitan: How Piper Kerman Became a Prison Activist 

10/16/2015, Long Island Press: Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events Oct 15-21

10/11/2015, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry Show, DOJ to release 6,000 federal prisoners 

10/07/2015, International Business Times, Prisoners Who Beat Harvard Debate Team Made Headlines, But Support For Prison Education Still Lagging

10/02/2015, The Philadelphia Tribune, Pope visits prison but gets ‘deserving of punishment’ wrong (op-ed written by EIO Co-Founder Vivian Nixon).

09/30/2015, Beyond Walls, EIO’s monthly WHCR radio show 

09/29/2015, BK Live, EIO appears to speak on Prison Education 

09/27/2015, EIO Co-Founder Vivian Nixon Appears on MSNBC to speak on the Pope’s visit to a PA Prison

09/23/2015, MNN, The Gilchrist Experience, EIO Community Organizer Dionna King Appears 

08/15/2015, On The Count, Vivian Nixon Appears 

08/14/2015, The Hill, Education from the Inside Out 

08/12/2015, Ed.Gov, The Promise of Pell 

08/11/2015, KCRW’s To The Point (NPR), Access to Higher Education for People in Prison 

8/05/2015, TWC’s Capital Tonight, President Obama’s plan to make inmates eligible for Pell Grants

8/5/2015, The Huffington Post, Pell Grant Myth Busters: Pell in Prisons

8/05/2015, WHCR’s Unlocked with Ricky Jones, EIO’s Dionna King interviewed on-air

8/03/2015, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, Pell Grants for Prisoners

8/02/2015, NBC News, Advocates Praise Federal Move to Restore Pell Grants for Prisoners

8/02/2015, The Guardian, Pell Grants to bring college back to prison

8/01/2015, MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry Show, New Pilot Program Lets Prisoners Get Pell Grants 

7/31/2015, Time Magazine, Former Prisoners Applaud Program to Help Inmates Go To College 

7/31/2015, MarketWatch, Obama Administration offers Pell Grants to Prisoners

7/31/2015, Think Progress, Pressure Mounts For Obama to Ban The Box 

7/29/2015, CNN Money, Obama to offer Pell Grants to Prisoners 

7/28/2015, The Wall Street Journal, Pell Grants for Prisoners Gets Mixed Reviews

7/23/2015, The Adirondack Enterprise, Prison Reform Advocates Take Message North

7/22/2015, The Huffington Post, Why the President’s Prison Visit Didn’t Go Far Enough 

07/18/2015, MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, EIO Co-Founder Vivian Nixon joins to speak on President Obama’s visit to a Federal Prison 

07/11/2015, MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, EIO Co-Founder Vivian Nixon joins show to speak on NYC Prison Reform 

06/19/2015, The New York Observer, ‘Pop-Up Classes’ in Harlem and Brooklyn Are MakingEducation More Accessible

06/16/2015, The Washington Post, Radical Pop-Up Schools: A new way to reach educationally disadvantaged communities 

06/01/2015, The Huffington   Post, Let’s Get Real: Prison Is No Place for Elitism

05/22/2015, The Huffington Post,The True Way to Reform is      to Educate Incarcerated Students 

05/12/2015, Time Warner Cable News, State Lawmakers Renew Push for Inmates to Receive State-Funded Degrees

05/12/2015, The Troy Record, Lawmakers push to revive college aid for prison inmates 

5/12/2015, The Legislative Gazette, Advocates hope to expand access to college classes in state prisons 

5/12/2015, WYNT News, Report: In-prison college betters society 

5/12/2015, Capital Tonight, Giving Inmates Access to Education

5/10/2015, The Times Union, Restore funding and make college an option in prison 

About Me

cropped-headshot.jpg

Liz Holliday, Communications Specialist

I’m a former journalist who turned in my microphone to help enact change that lasts beyond a deadline. An expert in all things media, I enjoy working for a company that has stories to tell, and platforms to expand.  I have experience in public relations, social media strategies, digital design, video editing, ghost writing, and working with the media across all platforms.

In the past year, I have helped my small non-profit go from just 12 media hits in 2014 to 90 media hits in 2015 (including MSNBC, The Washington Post,The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Guardian, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show and TIME magazine to name a few). I’ve organized press conferences, helped with community actions, and have ghost written opinion pieces that have been published in The HillThe Huffington PostAlbany Times UnionThe Philadelphia Tribune, and many more. I also have put together campaign videos (shot and edited), tribute videos as well as done some simple graphic and digital design for the organization.

Questions? Feel free to reach out to me digitally via email at Lizbholliday@gmail.com, on Twitter, or LinkedIn.