The Southern Higher Education in Prison Collective (SCHEP) began when individual instructors, administrators, and alumni from across the southern region met in 2017 to determine interest in establishing a permanent regional organization. During that meeting, we realized we had a common desire to share knowledge and resources as well as engage in collective decision-making and increase our collective impact. The Collective then reconvened annually at the 2018 and 2019 National Conference of Higher Education in Prison.
Today, the Collective includes a diverse group of higher education in prison programs across the southern region who meet to discuss and strategize around issues and opportunities specific to our political, cultural, and programmatic context. As a response to the changes to the HEP field brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we began meeting weekly in March 2020. During these weekly meetings, we began to form distinct working groups to share how we were adapting their programs due to COVID, how we might offer mutual aid to one another, and how we might create a formal structure for the organization.
These processes are ongoing and ever-changing in response to our ever-shifting challenges and opportunities, but we are committed to ensuring that the Collective evolves in accordance with our shared values.