McNeely Prison Education Consortium

The McNeely Prison Education Consortium (MPEC)

Marquette University’s Center for Urban Research, Teaching, and Outreach (CURTO) is leading a regional higher education in prison consortium with several universities and colleges located primarily in Southeast Wisconsin. This initiative, or the McNeely Prison Education Consortium (MPEC), endeavors to provide currently incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and system-impacted students more generally pathways to four-year degree programs with Wisconsin colleges and universities.

A consortium approach allows for a strategic aligning and pooling of institutional resources to break the cycle of mass incarceration across Wisconsin, but most notably Milwaukee County. This collaborative approach will also deliver career guidance, financial aid support, academic advising, while adopting trauma-informed, restorative practices. For those students that are released back into their communities, MPEC also collaborates with reentry services, non-profit organizations, and social justice initiatives across Milwaukee to connect returning students to wrap-around services.

The cornerstone of MPEC's efforts is Marquette’s Education Preparedness Program or EPP. In 2022-23, EPP expanded their course offerings to include 11 courses across three locations, which include the Racine Correctional Institution, the Community Reintegration Center, and the Marquette University (MU) Campus. Traditional Marquette undergraduate students and currently or formerly incarcerated individuals take the classes together. In total, 110 degree-seeking MU students and 70 system-impacted students were enrolled in EPP courses. The program also launched a four-week college preparation course for new students to enhance their academic preparedness.

The Two Components of the MPEC Consortium Model

  • Currently incarcerated students: Multiple institutions contribute a selection of classes that can be “packaged” into a general undergraduate degree in the “arts and sciences.”
  • Formerly incarcerated students: MPEC will serve as a "hub" of academic services, financial aid assistance, and advising for formerly incarcerated students interested in pursuing a degree at Marquette University or one of MPEC’s consortium partners.

R.L. McNeely’s Vision

The McNeely Prison Education Consortium (MPEC) is a collaboration of universities, correctional facilities, re-entry programs, and organizations committed to providing system impacted students access to college coursework and eventually a college degree during and post release.

"As MPEC’s program is based on tenets developed by the Consortium for Liberal Arts in Prison Program of Bard College, MPEC anticipates that the outcomes flowing from the MPEC program will be similar to those of Bard." (R.L. McNeely)

Current and Potential Collaborations

  • Milwaukee School of Engineering
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Alverno College
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Mount Mary University