About Policy & Advocacy at CCF


To build the movement for criminal justice reform, we prioritize two strategies:

  1. Increase access to higher education for currently and formerly incarcerated people to ensure that our community can access opportunity. Check out our national #UnlockHigherEd Coalition campaign here!

  2. Train women impacted by incarceration to become skilled advocates, ensuring that women’s voices are adequately represented in social justice campaigns and increasing intersectionality across campaigns. Check out our training program, WISH, here!

We are also a member of the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People & Families Movement (FICPFM), a national coalition of organizations led by directly impacted people working toward a cohesive platform for criminal justice reform.


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History of Advocacy at CCF

CCF first began advocating for increased access to higher education for currently and formerly incarcerated people in 2008. As one of three partners in the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), we worked with JustLeadershipUSA and the Center for Community Alternatives to advocate for Pell grant eligibility reinstatement, banning criminal history screenings on college applications, produce research supporting our work, and mobilize supporters on the ground and on college campuses for our campaigns. For years, the EIO Coalition gained more and more traction on these issues.

In 2014, EIO responded to a federal request for ideas for the Department of Education’s “Experimental Sites Initiative.” Experiments under this program test the effectiveness of statutory and regulatory flexibility for participating institutions disbursing Title IV student aid. EIO’s suggestion, to test out the efficacy of reinstating Pell grant eligibility, was accepted and the project launched in 2015. CCF’s Executive Director, Vivian Nixon, worked with the Department of Education to review all applications from educational institutions seeking to offer courses inside correctional facilities. Today, the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative is still running, and we hope this will be a stepping stone to permanent restoration of Pell grant eligibility for incarcerated students. 

Click here to read the EIO Coalition’s report on the effect of “the box” on college applications.

In 2016, EIO’s campaign to remove criminal history screenings on State University of NY (SUNY) campuses finally wrapped up with a victory: in September of that year, the SUNY Board of Trustees voted to move “the box” off initial college applications, choosing instead to conduct screenings only after applicants had been accepted to college.

Due to leadership and priority changes at our partner organizations, the EIO Coalition no longer exists. But CCF and our other program partners continue to work on education access issues nationally.