The brainchild of Wilkinson College Sociology professor Dr. Victoria Carty, the Chapman University and Underground GRIT (UG) Partnership helps young people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system re-enter society from juvenile hall, prison, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention. To accomplish this goal, the program invites them to participate in courses taught by Chapman University faculty.

“All of these boys [pictured below] were initially directly filed into the adult system. Some were sentenced to die in prison with life sentences or lengthy prison sentences. Today they are part of our partnered program with Chapman University. After completing applications and interviews they were accepted into this innovative approach to higher education. (Not pictured members joining virtually).” – @undergroundgrit

UG provides a voice to men, women, and youth who have been system impacted and who are breaking cycles perpetuated by trauma and works with the most vulnerable individuals and families to create independent, empowering care solutions that fit their unique needs. The UG-Chapman partnership benefits formerly incarcerated students who successfully complete the course as they will possess the experience and skills necessary to advance in higher education.

“This partnership provides an educational experience for previously incarcerated youth who are seeking a path for a promising future.” – Dr. Victoria Carty

Carty is currently teaching a section of SOC 225 Social Inequality/Stratification as an 8-week certificate course to a group of 13 students in UG’s re-entry program. Dr. Carty teaches the students on Saturdays and has writing workshops on Wednesdays and Fridays. The program is in alignment with best practices in restorative justice and criminal justice reform in general by offering opportunities for change and a healthy outlook for the future. Importantly, this partnership puts Chapman’s commitment to diversity into action by fostering a culture of equity and inclusion for traditionally marginalized populations.

Correctional education has shown effectiveness by reducing recidivism rates by 43 percent, increasing employment chances by 13 percent, and has demonstrated a cost-effective approach that prevents recidivism and improves critical skills.

Dr. Carty has extensive community connections with underserved neighboring communities. In 2015, she initiated Chapman’s partnership with Higher Ground Youth and Family Services in Anaheim (primarily a gang prevention program), has overseen dozens of internships and independent students, and developed three distinct courses with experiential learning at the site. To further promote the partnership, Dr. Carty has written in the local press to demonstrate our commitment to the community and encourage involvement from other local universities in colleges. Additionally, several local groups that work with underserved communities have invited her to give presentations.

Wilkinson is proud of Dr. Carty, and honored to support her work with these programs!

Read Chapman University and local nonprofit provide course to formerly incarcerated published in the Daily Pilot on December 30, 2020.