Colorado State University Pueblo and the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) signed a contract earlier in 2020, to enable youth in the Division of Youth Services (DYS) to enroll in college courses while in youth services care. As a result of this partnership, a total of 18 students have been registered in college courses this year.
“This partnership is another step in treating and supporting the whole person. We are committed to providing youth a range of educational and vocational opportunities that motivate and create excitement about the future. Not only is the division thrilled about this new partnership, the youth in our care are eager to jump into this opportunity to learn and further align themselves for success in the community.”Anders Jacobson, DYS Director
This partnership with CSU Pueblo and CDHS allows youth to pursue higher education beyond vocational programming and into college coursework after attaining their high school diploma or G.E.D. Students are given a list of classes available and are able to choose which course they would like for enrollment.
The courses for current student enrollment include art, economics, English, management, math, political science, psychology and sociology.
The Dean of Extended Studies, Kristyn White Davis, Ph.D., explained the commitment of CSU Pueblo to providing accessibility to education and how this partnership provides a unique way to accomplish the university’s vision.
“It is very exciting to see such an immediate benefit to this partnership,” said White Davis. “We’re glad to see concurrent enrollment as a valuable opportunity for incarcerated youth so that a college degree is attainable.”
Many formerly incarcerated youth struggle to transition back into community schools and face credit transfer hurdles. This delays progress toward degree completion or even deters youth from re-enrolling.
The program with DYS and CSU Pueblo, expands the educational services offered and looks to encourage youth to complete their degree upon being discharge which allows them to plan for the future.
These courses offered by CSU Pueblo are exclusively print-based, which allows coursework to be completed off-line so they meet security standards for the youth center.
Although many incarcerated youth do not return to school upon release, students who are enrolled in coursework or participating in college courses are more likely to show improvement in their studies. “We are hopeful that as students plan for their future upon their release, they see CSU Pueblo as a place where they can complete their degree,” said White Davis.
“From my initial meeting with the career and technical education coordinator for DYS, I knew that CSU Pueblo would be able to create something special for the youth. The students have been very excited about the chance to take new courses with CSU Pueblo, diversifying their education. I am honored to be part of this project to offer this opportunity to these students.”Kathryn Starkey, M.A., adult learning/ PLA lead specialist spoke of the unique partnership and the work behind the scenes to get the program started
In 2020, DYS awarded 264 high school diplomas and GEDs, and 336 career and technical education certifications. This partnership with CSU Pueblo and DYS enables concurrent enrollment and college credit opportunities for youth in 12 youth centers across the state of Colorado.