MyTERN

Project Vision and Overview |Who is served? |Partners | Program Description | Mentors & Navigators

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. 

Download the 2021 MyTERN informational flyer here.

Apply to join the MyTERN program:

  • Applications for formerly incarcerated people received by July 1, 2021 will receive fullest consideration. To learn more about application process, email: TUPIT@tufts.edu.
  • Application for Tufts students, the deadline is April 1, 2021.

Learn about MyTERN from program teachers, students, partners in our crowdfunding video (2020).

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.
  • Applications for formerly incarcerated people received by July 1, 2021 will receive fullest consideration. To learn more about the program or application process, email: TUPIT@tufts.edu.
  • Application for Tufts students, the deadline is April 1, 2021.

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:

Former students of TUPIT programs, including the degree program at MCI-Concord, and the Inside-Out program at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center and Suffolk County facilities.

People referred by MyTERN students or by our organizational partners such as Partakers, the Office of Returning Citizens, Project Place, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp.

Former students of the state’s other college in prison programs through Boston University, Emerson College, Boston College, and Mount Wachusett Community College, or the Massachusetts Prison Education Consortium.

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, MyTERN Student Coordinator

Partners

Program Description

The Program is composed of the following courses for 2020-2021. 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: Technology Support

Individualized and group training toward computer proficiency. Students acquire skills in basic computer and phone proficiency, Microsoft Word, and Powerpoint as they complete relevant assignments with one-on-one support geared toward professional development. Assignments might teach email etiquette, how to create and format a resume or how to utilize powerpoint effectively in a presentation, and mock interviewing. One-on-one tutorial support is led by a committed, trained, & experienced group of Tufts student Petey Greene tutors under faculty supervision.

Semester 2: Financial Math & Basic Coding

An accredited STEM course Financial Math & Basic Coding provides students with mathematical tools for analyzing and understanding certain financial aspects of their lives by focusing on basic worksheet operations, including charting, web searching, multiple sheet workbooks, macros, and functions and database features. Real-world assignments will include a coding component that uses Microsoft Excel and, for creating dynamic presentations, Powerpoint, resulting in increased fluency with both programs over the course of the semester.

Semester 2: Personal Finance and Project Development

An accredited course Planning for Your Future: Introduction to Personal Financial Management will foster skills, knowledge, and interest in the impact of money in one’s every day life and in the systems that impact us. Topics will include building wealth through persistence and patience, budgeting, responsible use of credit, insurance, investments, retirement, and taxes. Students will utilize skills and knowledge acquired in both classes second semester to develop a project with a business plan.

TUPIT-MyTERN Mentors and Navigators

MENTORS

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.

NAVIGATORS

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.