Life University Holds Lunch and Learn Supporting Reentry Efforts for the Previously Incarcerated
Life University (Life U), in partnership with the Henry Arthur Callis Education Foundation and the Georgia Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (GACHEP), hosted a special Lunch and Learn program on November 4, 2022, to promote meaningful discussion about the challenges that people face when leaving prisons in terms of employment, housing, mental health care, education and more. It was held at Life U’s Lucile Building from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. that afternoon.
The Lunch and Learn brought people together that might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with one another, including Life U students, members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, representatives for Cobb County businesses, and previously incarcerated students and community leaders.
“It allowed for a lot of free discussion, where we all had our own thoughts and ideas, promoting more events such as this in various areas,” commented Judge Kareem West, appointed for the Cobb County Juvenile Court.
Guests were asked to sit in small group table settings with people they had not met before to encourage robust and diverse discussion.
“The part that I really enjoyed and found valuable was that people that were not directly impacted by the justice system were actually listening. They actually listened to what I had to say, and they were asking questions, showing some concern,” said Drew Umberger, representative of the Policing Alternative and Diversion (PAD) initiative. “There needs to be more educational opportunities.”
Students from Life U Professor Marie Powell’s Marketing class served as group facilitators, posing questions to each small group to help attendees begin to learn from one another about this important issue. Powell’s class acted as a consulting team for the partners involved in the event, and they will deliver a final presentation to the partners about how they might build on this event to raise awareness and promote social change surrounding reentry and incarceration issues.
“Once we are released, we deserve to be able to be successful and have equal and equitable access to things that are going to make us successful,” said Waleisah Wilson, Ambassador for Represent Justice.
Life U is committed to serving as an educational resource and support for people impacted by the prison system. Life U’s commitment to social change is evident in its Chillon Project initiative, which provides higher education to people impacted by the prison system in Georgia. Life U offers two degree programs at a maximum-security facility for women in Georgia: an Associate of Arts in Positive Human Development and Social Change (A.A. in PHDSC) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S) in Psychology. It’s a trailblazing program that will allow people impacted by the prison system to succeed, grow and make a positive impact in their communities.
This Lunch and Learn event was the first of many more similar events planned to further support discussion and promote opportunities related to reentry. With future events, the intention is to encourage even more local business owners and policy makers to join the conversation to include a wider audience.
“I think we need more business leaders and educational leaders in the room because there were folks at those tables who probably walked away thinking in ways they hadn’t before,” said Dr. Thomas Fabisiak, Director of the Chillon Project. “Opening the door is one of the biggest things people can do.”
For more information about the Chillon Project, visit compassion.life.edu/chillon-project.
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