Project Vision and Overview | Application | Partners | Program Description | Mentors & Navigators | Podcast

The application to join MyTERN’s fourth cohort is open.

MyTERN will run rolling admissions until the program is full beginning in May. The final day to apply is July 15, 2023 for enrollment in the 2023 to 2024 academic year. Please view the application here. 

The Tufts Education Reentry Network (TERN) program, MyTERN, 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-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. 

View the MyTERN informational flyer here

Meet the MyTERN Team


Learn about MyTERN from program teachers, students, and partners in our crowdfunding videos



Project Vision and Overview

Since joining MyTERN my whole outlook on life has matured. Today, my life has meaning and purpose. I’m able to see myself futuring my education and expanding my mentoring non-profit. I’m more confident speaking with people about my past and future!  Davon McNeil, MyTERN Student

People returning from prisons and jails face many challenges, including lack of employment and educational opportunities, psychological trauma, threatening economic stress, social isolation, and the lack of self-esteem that results from having been incarcerated. The Tufts Educational Re-entry Network (TERN) employs a multi-pronged, trauma-informed and community-based approach to re-entry in this hybrid educational re-entry program called MyTERN. 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.

MyTERN instructors are trauma-informed facilitators who have experience working with formerly incarcerated students and people. Alongside Tufts professors, members of TERN with lived experience of incarceration, and their loved ones, serve as instructor-mentors for the MyTERN re-entry program. Faculty from Tufts’ college-in-prison program and a cohort of trained Tufts students also provide instruction for accredited courses and computer certification trainings, as described below. Creating a comprehensive program requires resources and collaboration with people and organizations with expertise in each component of re-entry. TERN’s established community-partner network has helped to build the foundation for success.

MyTERN’s objective is to provide an opportunity for each participant to rediscover and reframe his or her skills and interests, responsibilities, and commitments. This experience will help people redefine meaningful work and potentially see employment ultimately in the form of a career rather than only entry-level jobs. Moreover, our capacity to facilitate continuing education through our network partners at the state’s largest public community college, Bunker Hill Community College, through the Mass Transfer System, and through Tufts University’s Resumed Education for Adult Learners (R.E.A.L.) Program, can further support career development within the context of a social and emotional learning community.

MyTERN’s work is a stone in the foundation of a more just future. Fiona Davis-Walsh, MyTERN Student Coordinator


Who Is Served?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


All are welcome to apply. Most students who are selected to progress to the interview stage of the admissions process will be among the following groups:

There are very few if any educational experiences more meaningful I’ve had than getting to work with and learn alongside students on the inside. Alex Lein, former MyTERN Student Coordinator



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 wholistic 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:


Program Description

The Program is composed of the following courses for 2022-2023. Our professional team members with lived experience of incarceration work with Tufts faculty as mentors for MyTERN students. All students receive a laptop.

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: Finance and Technology for Civic Impact

Finance and 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 y 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

This course 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: Homelessness in America 

In this multi-disciplinary course, we explore the complex phenomenon of homelessness in the United States and we examine why it persists in one of the world’s most affluent societies. Along the way, you’ll acquire conceptual frameworks and skills you can use to address other complex social issues and policy responses. You’ll learn how to ask challenging questions about social problems and what can be done to contend with them. The course is an opportunity for personal discovery. You’re encouraged to identify new interests and passions that will guide your future learning, public service, and social justice activism.


TUPIT-MyTERN Mentors and Navigators


MyTERN mentors are formerly incarcerated professionals and/or MyTERN graduates who serve as guides for MyTERN students who are newly returning home. Mentors speak in classes and help others to find the resources and support to help bolster their success. Some mentors serve as faculty members in MyTERN, and most serve on the MyTERN Advisory Committee that works in an advisory capacity with the Program Director. Click HERE to meet our mentorship team.


Student TUPIT navigators are full-time Tufts undergraduate and graduate students who are selected for the volunteer positions that take the lead on providing and cultivating support for MyTERN participants in the year-long certificate program.

Faculty and staff TUPIT navigators provide additional support as advisors for MyTERN students at the intersection of higher education and reentry.