"To deny education to any people is one of the greatest crimes against human nature." Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Emancipation

Courtney Foster, a CIU nursing student speaking at 2019 CIU Graduation
Courtney Foster, a CIU nursing student speaking at 2019 CIU Graduation

College Initiative Upstate creates pathways to and through college for court-involved and formerly incarcerated people

College Initiative Upstate (CIU) is a learning community of students, educators, and volunteers who are working together to build pathways to and through college for court-involved and formerly incarcerated people living in Tompkins County, NY. CIU’s model provides the resources for college preparation, college enrollment, and community leadership – all free of charge. The only requirement besides justice involvement is a high school diploma or equivalency. By effectively addressing the individual and structural barriers to higher education, including the gap in preparation for college enrollment for individuals impacted by the legal system, CIU offers a life-changing path for non-traditional students experiencing poverty, substance use, and legal involvement.

This button will direct you to our contact page to send us an inquiry. This is the first step to getting involved with CIU.

Bulletin Board 2021 - 2022

Congratulations to . . .

CIU students who completed college degrees during the Spring 2021 semester!

  • Samantha Gentz: A.A.S. Chemical Dependency, With High Honor, TC3
  • Kwanta Griffin: B.S. Human Services, Empire State College
  • Carinn Hubbard: A.A.S. Liberal Arts and Sciences, Phi Theta Kappa, TC3
  • Richard Rivera: B.A. Sociology, Bard College
  • Jessica Shephard: M.S. Ed. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Chi Sigma Iota, Alfred University

Announcements . . .

Register Now!

Important Dates for Fall '21 College Prep ATI and College Enrollment

  • October 12th - December 17th: CIU's free, semester-long College Prep ATI sessions. Call or text us for a spot or to refer someone you know. (607) 351-3201

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Our primary office has moved!

You can know find us at the TC3 Extension in the M&T Bank Building on the Ithaca Commons, Room 501.

Office Hours at TC3 Extension: M - Thurs. 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

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Meet the CIU Staff

  • Benay Rubenstein, Director: (607) 351-5028
  • Maria Vargas, Academic Counselor: (607) 351-3201
  • Amy Heffron, Outreach Coordinator

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"Radio Play" 

The Civic Ensemble ReEntry Theatre Program and College Initiative Upstate have partnered to explore how personal narratives of those who have experienced incarceration can impact a community.

September 11, 18, and 25- Time TBA

WRFI 88.1 FM Ithaca, 91.5 FM Watkins Glen or wrfi.org

Join for a free, live in-person listening party for Steppin' Into My Shoes

Saturday, September 25, 2021, at 1:30 pm

The Cherry Arts Space

Image: CIU Mascot, by Vita Giorgi
CIU Mascot, by Vita Giorgi