Gateways for Incarcerated Youth

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Fall 2017
Winter 2018
Spring 2018
Credits per quarter

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This program offers Evergreen students the opportunity to co-learn with individuals incarcerated in a maximum-security institution for juvenile males. It is high-stakes work that demands consistent engagement—approximately 10-12 hours a week in class and four to six hours a week at the institution (including travel time). The learning of students enrolled in this program fuels and is fueled by the learning of the incarcerated students.

A fundamental principle of the Gateways program is that every person has talents given to them at birth and valuable experiences that can contribute to our shared learning. It is our job as humans to encourage each other to seek out and develop our passions and gifts. These values are manifested in the practices of popular education, which will serve as both the process and the content of our work. Our goal is to create an environment in which each person becomes empowered to share their knowledge, creativity, values, and goals by connecting respectfully with people from other cultural and class backgrounds. All students will wrestle with topics in diversity and social justice alongside other subjects chosen by the incarcerated students; the main feature of popular education is that it empowers those seeking education to be the local experts in shaping their own course of study.

Popular education works through conscientization, the ongoing process of joining with others to give a name to socioeconomic conditions, to reflect critically on those conditions, and thereby to imagine new possibilities for living. In order to do this work successfully, students will practice learning how to meet other learners where they are at (literally, in order to better understand the conditions that put some of us in prisons and others in colleges). Students will also develop or hone their skills in contextualizing and analyzing socioeconomic phenomena. Most importantly, students will learn that solidarity does not mean saving other people or solving their problems—it means creating conditions that allow them to articulate those problems through genuine dialogue and supporting them as they work toward their own solutions.

Program participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how different individuals access and manifest their learning as they gain experience in facilitating discussions and workshops. In the process of collectively shaping the Gateways seminar, they will also learn how to organize productive meetings and work through conflict. Each quarter, students will take increasing responsibility for designing, implementing, and assessing the program workshops and seminars. Throughout the year, we will seek to expand our collective knowledge about various kinds of relative advantage or privilege while continually working to create a space that is welcoming and generative for all learners.

High-stakes community-based work requires trust, and trust requires sustained commitment. This program requires that all participants be ready to commit themselves to the program for the entire academic year.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: juvenile justice, education, community work, and social work

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$100 in fall and $150 in winter and spring for overnight field trips.


Participating students are required by the prison to pass a background check in order to work on site.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Final schedule and room assignment: