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					TO: Dr. Mary Hendrix, Associate Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs

FROM: Shannon Carter, Assistant Professor of English, Texas A&M-Commerce, Lucy Smith, Founder and CEO of
Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc., and Jake Pichnarcik, Interlibrary Loan Clerk, Texas A&M-Commerce (and former tutor for
Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc., and the Texas A&M-Commerce Writing Center

RE: Potential Partnership between Texas HOPE Literacy and Texas A&M University-Commerce

DATE: 9/26/2006

As per our conversation following Interim Provost Ashley’s “Tea” (9/14/06), we would like to articulate several
projects we feel might emerge from formal partnership between Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc. and Texas A&M-
Commerce. Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc. trains inmates to “Help Others Pursue Education” by working one-on-one with
their incarcerated peers. The core program is, of course, individualized instruction; however, a number of innovative re-
entry programs have emerged from this commitment to literacy education, as well (career literacy, family literacy,
financial literacy, emotional literacy, parenting classes that are CPS approved, counseling, choir & steppers, crocheting,
theater, collaborative writing, community outreach projects, etc., along with forming a new 501 (c)(3) corporation
called The Vineyard for reentry/aftercare).

We believe that all of these current projects would benefit from a formalized partnership with A&M-Commerce, a
partnership that would be no less beneficial to A&M-Commerce’s current undergraduate and graduate programs, as
well as current A&M-Commerce initiatives.

I. Current graduate programs that could benefit from this partnership--
                Research Opportunities                          Internship Opportunities
Counseling      MA students focusing on Community               Community Counseling Specialty requires
                Counseling; PhD students seeking dissertation   practicum and internship experiences in
                projects                                        community or agency settings.
Psychology      MA or MS students seeking original research     Students can work with TDCJ, A&M-Commerce,
                topics                                          and Texas HOPE Literacy to develop, organize,
                                                                and/or maintain new programs and/or assist and
                                                                support existing programs using their developing
                                                                expertise in the field of psychology.
Special         MA, MS, or M.Ed. students seeking original      Students can work with TDCJ, A&M-Commerce,
Education       research topics                                 and Texas HOPE Literacy to develop, organize,
                                                                and/or maintain new programs and/or assist and
                                                                support existing programs using their developing
                                                                expertise in the field of Special Education.
Educational     PhD students (in Educational Psychology)        Students can work with TDCJ, A&M-Commerce,
Psychology      seeking original research topics for their      and Texas HOPE Literacy to develop, organize,
                dissertation and/or other scholarly projects    and/or maintain new programs and/or assist and
                                                                support existing programs using their developing
                                                                expertise in the field of Educational Psychology.
Social Work     “Advanced Generalist education prepares social  Students may work with TDCJ, A&M-
                workers to function in direct practice with     Commerce, and Texas HOPE Literacy to develop,
                individuals, families and groups, to provide    organize, and/or maintain new programs and/or
                supervision and administration, and to become   assist and support existing programs using their
                leaders in their communities. Graduates are     developing expertise in the field of Social Work.
                taught to do planning, development, and
                coordination of social service programs”
                (http://www.tamu-
                commerce.edu/socialwork/programs-
                master.htm). HOPE’s relevance to this mission
                seems obvious.
Sociology and   Special Programs and Areas of Emphasis          Students can work with TDCJ, A&M-Commerce,
Criminal        include Applied Sociology, Evaluation           and Texas HOPE Literacy to develop, organize,
Justice         Research, Social Theory, Family Violence,       and/or maintain new programs and/or assist and


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                  Marriage and Family, Research Methods and            support existing programs using their developing
                  Data Analysis, Criminal Justice—all of which         expertise in the fields of Sociology and Criminal
                  seem quite relevant to HOPE and the research         Justice.
                  possibilities available through HOPE.
Literature and    Please see Part IV below                             Please see Part IV below
Languages


II. Current undergraduate programs that could benefit from partnership--
Political       (1) General Political Science Emphasis--prepares students for careers in public service, law, teaching,
Science         practical politics, business, and other fields.
                (2) Paralegal Studies-- prepares students for careers as professional paralegals.
Social Work     “The undergraduate professional curriculum is built upon and integrated with a beginning
                professional level of proficiency in self-critical and accountable use of generalist social work
                knowledge, skills and values” (http://www.tamu-commerce.edu/socialwork/programs-bachelor.htm)
Sociology       (1) Sociology—" Sociology is the scientific study of human behavior. A major in sociology prepares a
                person to understand how people interact with each other, how groups and societies differ, and how
                these social units affect human behavior. This program increases a person's sensitivity to larger social
                and cultural forces within which people and organizations operate. A degree in sociology helps us to
                better understand why people behave similarly as well as differently. A degree in sociology helps a
                student to develop an awareness as well as to develop competencies in understanding human
                behavior, organizational dynamics, social or people skills, cultural diversity, and analytic skills”
                (http://www.tamu-commerce.edu/sociology/sociology.asp).
                (2) Criminology Emphasis--“A student majoring in Sociology with Criminology Emphasis is more
                likely to prefer a sociological ideology than the ideology promoted by the Criminal Justice profession.
                This student perhaps wants to concentrate more on the theoretical cause of criminal behavior rather
                than focusing on the components of the criminal justice system and their operations. This major
                prepares the student to work within a criminal justice agency yet permits the student to have a more
                social impression of the various avenues that connect human behavior and criminal activity”
                (http://www.tamu-commerce.edu/sociology/criminology.asp).
Criminal        “The Criminal Justice Program is a broad-based, multi-disciplinary approach to the education of
Justice         persons who intend to seek professional careers in the areas of law enforcement, (local, state, and
                federal), the courts, criminology, or corrections. A student majoring in criminal justice will develop
                knowledge and skills essential for a broad understanding of the criminal justice process. A special
                feature of the program allows students to acquire job experience while still in school through an
                internship with local agencies” (http://www.tamu-commerce.edu/sociology/cJustice.asp).

III. Current A&M-Commerce initiatives that a partnership between Texas HOPE Literacy and Texas A&M
University-Commerce could help advance—

Math Education—Texas HOPE Literacy offers math curricula, (some of which has been developed by male inmate
tutors). Anecdotal evidence reveals female inmates have a much greater need for basic math instruction than male
inmates. It seems a number of research projects and internship opportunities are available here.

Liberal Studies—Drs. Klein and Matthei (College of Arts and Sciences) are very excited about the possible ways a
partnership like this might support the proposed Liberal Studies major—particularly a concentration in Literacy Studies.
I have checked the current undergraduate catalog and found several courses already offered in a number of different
departments that might work well with a concentration in Literacy Studies (in Art, Sociology, History, Criminal Justice,
Counseling, Speech, Political Science, and Journalism). The scholarly interests of faculty in a variety of departments
might serve this concentration well, too. In History, for example, Judy Ford’s research interests in the literate and oral
traditions of early Christianity and Sharon Kowalsky’s work in gender and criminology seem particularly relevant. I
have already spoken with Judy Ford about a Literacy Studies concentration, and she expressed much enthusiasm. She
and I will meet soon to discuss its potential. Internship and research possibilities seem plentiful here.

Service Learning—Again, a more formalized “service learning” component could easily emerge from this partnership,
as community service projects are plentiful in Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc. and related re-entry programs.


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IV. Department of Literature and Languages programs that could benefit from this partnership—

BA in English—In addition to the Liberal Studies concentration (above) and the current programs that train public
school teachers, writing center tutors, and future graduate students in English Studies, a HOPE-A&M Partnership would
offer English majors training/internship opportunities in community literacy/service learning, as well as a number of
research opportunities quite relevant to the at-risk populations they may serve in their careers as English teachers.

Teaching/Internship/Research Opportunities for Graduate Students—Eventually, we would like for A&M-Commerce
to offer English 101/102 at one or more of the prison facilities served by Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc. Ideally, HOPE
participants could earn the opportunity to take English 101 and/or 102 while incarcerated. These courses would be
taught on-site at selected prison facilities by an experienced Teaching Assistant in our PhD program (previously trained
in composition studies with a strong record as an English 101/102 instructor on a college campus and an obvious
interest in working with this incarcerated population) and mentored on-site by the On-Site Project Director and off-site
by the Director of First-Year Composition at A&M-Commerce.

Once the First-Year Composition Program is stabilized on one or more correctional facilities (serving HOPE
participants), we would like to begin offering writing center assistance to these same inmates via highly trained A&M-
Commerce writing center tutors, mentored on-site by the On-Site Project Director and off-site by the Director of the
Writing Center.

Extending our programs in these ways would lead—organically—to important research projects (dissertations,
presentations, articles, and other cutting-edge scholarship). It also seems likely that doing so would open the door to
offering additional courses to interested and eligible inmates participating in Texas HOPE Literacy.

One possibility in which we are particularly interested is something like “The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program:
Exploring Issues of Crime and Justice Behind the Walls" ” (offered at Temple University, see
http://www.temple.edu/inside-out/). Via this project, Temple college students take courses with inmates on the prison
campus—upper-level, interdisciplinary courses focusing on issues like incarceration and social justice. Inmates and
free-world students discuss these issues together—in real time, behind the walls of this Philadelphia, maximum security
facility. Temple University also offers training for colleges/instructors hoping to bring this program to their own
universities and area prisons. We could certainly take advantage of this expertise in setting up a similar program.

It seems a course like this would offer an unforgettable, “capstone” experience for any program, but we believe it would
be particularly relevant for an interdisciplinary program like Liberal Studies (especially a concentration in Literacy
Studies).

Conclusion
These are just a few of the possible programs and innovations that could emerge from a more formalized partnership
with Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc. Lucy Smith, Founder and CEO of Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc., is very interested in
supporting this partnership in any way she can, as are key representatives of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Shannon Carter hopes to support this partnership in any way she can, as her own teaching and research agendas are a
direct result of experiences with Texas HOPE Literacy, Inc., and an informal partnership with this important program.
After speaking with a number of members of her department (Literature and Languages) and other departments like
History, Art, Sociology and Criminal Justice, and Educational Leadership, she understands support for this partnership
to be widespread. Jake Pichnarcik is also deeply committed to this program and interested in supporting this partnership
in any way he can.

We hope you can help us determine the next best step in making this formalized partnership a reality.

Thanks for your time, assistance, and enthusiasm.




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