The Tufts Education Reentry Network (MyTERN) program serves as a pathway to continued higher education while also helping to prepare people for meaningful employment post-incarceration. Providing education and mentorship to – and by – those who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system, MyTERN combines Civic Studies courses in higher learning with community involvement through our broad network of partner organizations.  This Tufts University-accredited and Bunker Hill Community College-accredited, 4-course certificate program is part of the Mass Transfer System, allowing for easy transfer of credits. MyTERN is designed by and for people who are directly impacted by the carceral system. As such, it includes a humanities focus throughout, complemented by intensive computer training and professional development. 

Project Vision and Overview

People returning from prisons and jails face many challenges, including a lack of employment and educational opportunities, psychological trauma, poverty, social isolation, and the lack of self-esteem that results from having been incarcerated. The Tufts University Prison Initiative (TUPIT) facilitates a trauma-informed approach to reentry through Tufts University coursework and a certificate in Civic Studies coupled with support in housing, job placement, and social-emotional well-being. MyTERN students receive a laptop at the beginning of the program that students may keep upon completion. Students also receive extensive training in computer-based skill-building and financial literacy. In this program, justice-involved individuals take courses alongside Tufts University undergraduates over one academic year from late August to early May. After graduating, students may choose to mentor peers as paid MyTERN Restorative Justice Fellows. MyTERN thereby fosters a lasting community of belonging for people coming home.

The program aims to:

  • Engage people holistically by offering educational opportunities guided by a commitment to individual well-being
  • Facilitate a healthy social network that mitigates the isolation often experienced by people directly impacted by the justice system
  • Cultivate social-emotional, intellectual, and practical skills proven to be essential to strengthening one’s candidacy for meaningful employment and continued education
  • Build students’ senses of individual purpose, self-efficacy, and self-worth, as well as community belonging and accountability, by fostering relationship-building skills
  • Measure success not only in decreased recidivism rates but also in the increased health and wellness of people reentering society after incarceration.

Our Students

MyTERN serves people with various levels of education who have recently returned from incarceration in Massachusetts. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalency (HSE). Parole or probation status is not relevant to one’s application. In addition to the formerly incarcerated cohort, MyTERN includes highly trained and prepared Tufts University and Bunker Hill Community College students as co-learners and as technology tutors. Please visit this link for application information.

MyTERN-to-BHCC Pathway

Through TUPIT’s partnership with BHCC, all MyTERN students have a pathway to degree completion at the college with the assistance of BHCC’s Department of Community-Based Initiatives. Our partners at BHCC are offering our students registration assistance, financial aid advising, and academic advising. 

BHCC’s Department of Community-Based Initiatives and the HOPE Initiative will offer individual sessions with our students for application submission , degree selection, FAFSA filing, and class registration. Once registered for courses our students will meet regularly with the BHCC Community-Based Initiative and HOPE Initiative advisors until degree completion. 

Additionally,  TUPIT leadership and the broader MyTERN community will continue to help facilitate the success of our students on this pathway. 

MyTERN Courses

Semester 1: Literatures of Justice

A semester-long, accredited interdisciplinary course, The Literatures of Justice, fosters learning from one another, listening, collaborating, reflecting, and sharing. In this rigorous reading and writing course, students engage with the idea of justice and the practices that borrow its name while learning about the US criminal justice system through a multidisciplinary lens of historical analysis, philosophy, literature, and personal narratives – those published and those shared by class members. Students hone writing and oral presentation skills in the process.

Semester 1: Technology for Civic Impact 

Technology for Civic Impact is a course designed to increase societal access increasing knowledge of personal finance and technology for people with gaps in their knowledge. Developing this knowledge increase independence and the potential to engage with people and institutions. Increased financial and technological fluency further supports a person’s capacity for civic impact, whether in the realm of employment, education, socialization, or activism.


 Semester 2: Storytelling for Social Change 

Storytelling for Social Change is designed to help students develop their own stories as tools for personal growth and social transformation.  As part of a growing restorative and transformative justice movement in Massachusetts, MyTERN joins these community-based efforts maintaining the aim of increasing justice and healing specifically for individuals and communities most impacted by incarceration. MyTERN will be working closely with TPP, the Transformational Prison Project, to provide an introductory experience with restorative justice and an option for further exploration and training. Students learning these traditional restorative justice methods will also be reading memoirs of people who have served time, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, in each case assessing what makes a particular mode of storytelling transformative for the audience and capable of increasing justice and changing the ways that people think. 

Semester 2: The Art of Good Trouble: Policy, Politics and Advocacy (rotating course)

This course will offer students a practical approach to the process of who makes public policy decisions, for whom, how, why, and the lessons we can learn from this process. Throughout the semester, students will explore different approaches to policy, politics, and advocacy, and how each is connected. Through class discussions, various readings, lectures, and guest speakers, this course is designed to help students develop knowledge, skills, and abilities for change-making.

Community Partners

The MyTERN program partners with several local organizations that work to address the impacts of incarceration on individuals and communities, helping to ensure food and housing security, educational opportunity, and employment access to people in and beyond the Boston area. In building coalitions with people and groups that have expertise in the carceral system, MyTERN seeks to provide holistic support and a wide range of resources to meet the individual needs of all students in the program. Please see below for a list of our partner organizations: