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The Justice Fellows Policy Program offers support to the formerly incarcerated

Black and white photo of Shannon Ross with a lightly freckled face and a full beard
Shannon Ross
Shannon Ross
Shannon Ross

Formerly incarcerated people face a lot of obstacles when re-entering our community. They’re cut off from a lot of jobs and educational opportunities, making it difficult to find steady employment and create a new life post conviction. A program through Education Trust is trying to change the legal landscape to open new opportunities for these people. It’s called the Justice Fellows Policy Program, and Milwaukeean Shannon Ross was a part of their inaugural group of fellows.

Ross continues to be a part of the program, and he joins Lake Effect’s to talk about how this project has helped his work as the executive director of The Community, a local organization that helps people leaving incarceration.

He says the program focuses on policies and advocacy to improve educational opportunities.

"With the information I'm getting from this fellowship and in my work in higher education, I can just be of more value to our readers and their loved ones who are trying to find out and navigate the higher education path while [they're] incarcerated or upon release," Ross says.

The program is facilitated through Milwaukee Area Technical College. The Pell program, which is mainly associated with assisting college students with paying tuition and other higher education expenses, was available to formerly incarcerated people until 1994. Ross says those funds were made available again during the twilight years of the Obama administration. Ross became the first student to graduate under this revamped educational support system, igniting his path to his current community-based work in Milwaukee.


Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2016.
Robert Larry joined WUWM in 2022 as a digital producer.
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