Reentry Education Tool Kit

This collection of guidelines, tools and resources is designed to help education providers and their partners create a reentry education continuum for formerly incarcerated adults.

Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Literacy Information and Communication System
RTI International
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Target Audience

More than 700,000 adults exit prisons each year and tens of thousands more leave local correctional facilities. Many formerly incarcerated adults lack workforce skills, jobs, and other critical assistance that will help them find a path back to a successful life in their communities. Research shows that education and training can reduce recidivism. However, adults in the correctional system may struggle to receive education and training, in part because the educational services offered in correctional facilities are often disconnected from community-based education programs.

The Reentry Education Framework is designed to help reentry education providers create a seamless path for their students, by connecting education services offered in correctional facilities with those in the community. The framework serves as the foundation for the Reentry Education Tool Kit – a collection of guidelines, tools, and resources designed to help education providers and their partners create a reentry education program to assist formerly incarcerated adults successfully transition back into the community. The tools are organized into five critical components of an effective reentry program:

  • Program Infrastructure: A solid foundation that includes a diverse funding base and in-kind resources; adequate space and equipment; well-trained, dedicated staff; a process for collecting and using data for program improvement; and administrative policies that support reentry education.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Partnerships among the correctional system, education providers and other organizations providing support and employment services to adults while incarcerated and upon release.
  • Education Services: Evidence-based education services aligned with approaches used in the community that help adults identify and pursue a career pathway that enables them to obtain a living-wage job. 
  • Transition Processes: Reentry education providers working closely with support and employment services to assess their students’ needs and risks, identify the services and support required, and develop a schedule for providing services that takes into account various transition points.
  • Sustainability: As with any system, an education continuum requires early and ongoing work to ensure that it will persist through fluctuations in resources, staff turnover, and other changes.

The Tools page contains all the tools in the Tool Kit.

Benefits and Uses

Each component of the Reentry Education Framework should be tailored to the specific context and needs of the education provider, its partners, and the target population. Because some providers may be farther along than others in creating an education continuum, the authors suggest using the Tool Kit as follows:

  1. Review each component to understand the rationale for each and the connections among them.
  2. Conduct an implementation self-assessment to identify components of the education continuum that need to be established or strengthened. The Infrastructure component includes a sample Implementation Self-Assessment tool that enables providers and their partners to assess their current program infrastructure and their capacity to implement the other components of the Framework.
  3. Use the self-assessment results to develop an action plan for implementing a reentry education continuum. A sample Implementation Action Planning Worksheet can also be found in the Infrastructure section.
  4. Return to relevant sections of the report and the corresponding website for tools and resources to support building or strengthening your program’s infrastructure, partnerships, education services, transition processes, and sustainability strategy.

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