As in many other states, HEP providers in North Carolina are currently working to organize their efforts at the statewide level. HEP leaders at several NC institutions, in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, recently founded the North Carolina Prison Education Consortium (NCPEC), an organization dedicated to sharing HEP resources and promoting best practices for HEP providers across the state.
In late 2021, NCPEC was delighted to receive funding from the Laughing Gull Foundation to support its organizational development. Laughing Gull’s funds support the first-ever in-person meetings of NCPEC in the spring and fall of 2022. These funds also support three student interns from the University of North Carolina and UNC Asheville who have spent the past few months mapping HEP resources across the state.
Together, Zoe Conner, Juliana Mehrer, and Hannah Stuit have used GIS software and data collected from numerous institutions to produce an interactive map featuring state-run carceral institutions, two- and four-year institutions offering HEP programming, local reentry councils, and other HEP-related resources. The hope is that this map will make clear existing geographic and programmatic connections between distinct institutions, enabling those institutions to coordinate their offerings and share their resources. The map may also suggest potential new collaborations and indicate areas where additional programming would benefit currently and formerly incarcerated learners. For example, the map might help a student working through a certification program at a two-year college find an ideal “sequel” through a program offered at a four-year college elsewhere in the state.
Similar mapping efforts are underway in other states represented by the Southern HEP Collective, including Georgia and Mississippi. SHEPC plans to offer a half-day workshop on developing these tools. Please subscribe to the SHEPC Google Group to keep up-to-date on these efforts, and write to Patrick Bahls, Director of UNC Asheville’s Prison Education Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about resource mapping in NC.