The links below will connect you with our collection of videos, articles, and resources about CIU, as well as information referenced on this website.



This 40 min film celebrates 10 incredible, and courageous college graduates. Produced by "Well Said" Media

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Breaking the Cycle: College Initiative Upstate

A short documentary introducing College Initiative Upstate’s staff & students - culminating with a powerful graduation surprise. Special thanks to Barbara Zahm who produced this video!

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From Prison to Stanford: How He Did It

Kath Path, a Stanford University student, shares her candid interview with Jodi Anderson. Witness the moment she learns that Jodi was not a typical transfer student!

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Re-Imagine the Future: The Journey from Prison to College

Formerly incarcerated College Initiative students in NYC speak to their counterparts in prison about the benefits of attending college after release. This film was shown in pre-release classes for many years. Produced by Jeremy Robins and Benay Rubenstein.

Watch on Vimeo

Passport to the Future: Accessing Higher Education in an era of Mass Incarceration

A short video exploring barriers to college admission for applicants with criminal records. Produced by Jeremy Robins and Benay Rubenstein as part of the campaign to Ban the Box on college applications.

Watch on Vimeo

The Last Graduation: The Rise and Fall of College Programs in Prison

This award-winning video tells the story of the rise and fall of college programs in NYS Prisons, starting with the Attica Uprising. Produced by Barbara Zahm and Benay Rubenstein.

Watch on Vimeo


Tips to Mastering Hybrid Learning

CIU's Academic Coordinator, Maria Vargas, shares some tips and tricks to help you master hybrid learning.

Alternative to Incarceration Program Holds Graduation Ceremony

With fanfare and much applause, the CIU graduation ceremony was held for the students of College Initiative Upstate (CIU) at Coltivare on June 6, 2019.

College Initiative Upstate Celebrates Transformation through Education

CIU students honored at the 2019 College Initiative Upstate Graduation Celebration, all of whom overcame court involvement or incarceration to pursue an education.

The Faces of ATIs

Article featuring Samantha Gentz, a CIU honor student who gained the confidence to overcome hurdles and return to college with the support of CIU’s Academic Counselor.

A By the Books Approach to Reentry

2017 local news article highlighting judicial support for CIU as a new program of OAR.

Voices That Must Be Heard: A Peer Response to Systemic Inequality in Upstate New York

CIU's Peer Leadership Group, Voices that Must be Heard, was invited to present at the 2020 Beyond the Bars Conference in New York City. "Voices" Peers Clay Hapstak, Latoya Peterson, and Richard Rivera shared their community projects and personal stories with the audience. The full record of their presentation is available for download here.

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I Survived Prison During the AIDS Epidemic, Here's What It Taught Me About Coronavirus

An insightful piece of journalism written by CIU student, Richard Rivera, for The Marshall Project. Rivera speaks about how his experiences in prison during the AIDS Crisis of the early 1980s remind him of the panicked responses he sees to the Coronavirus now.

What Home Means to the Homeless: These Are the Things They Hung On To, When So Many Things Were Lost

Richard Rivera, who has worked with Ithaca’s homeless encampment throughout the Pandemic, spoke with NYT staff photographer Damon Winter on several occasions while he researched this compelling story.

In the Middle of it All

This article tells the story of the collaboration between numerous groups, including OAR, that work with the homeless and low income population in Ithaca.

Traumatized to Death: The Cumulative Effects of Serial Parole Denials

Traumatized to Death: The Cumulative Effects of Serial Parole Denials written by Richard Rivera, was published in the July 2020 issue of the CUNY LAW REVIEW a student-run publication devoted to producing


New York Giants Players Tour County Jail

In May 2019, the NY Giants football team visited Ithaca to learn what alternatives the county is successfully using to incarceration. In April 2020 – one year after meeting, CIU received a surprise grant from our favorite football team!

Building Pathways of Possibility from Criminal Justice to College: College Initiative as a Catalyst Linking Individual and Systemic Change

In 2011, Susan Sturm wrote a study that documents and analyzes College Initiative’s development from an individual service delivery program into one that links individual and systemic change. Her multi-level research revealed how CI’s involvement with criminal justice and higher education transforms both sides of the relationship.

Changing Minds: The Impact of College in a Maximum Security Prison

This 3-year study was the first Participatory Action Research (PAR) Project on college in prison where incarcerated women at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, most of whom were College Bound students, were trained to do primary research. Read this piece to discover their fascinating findings.

Additional Resources

Mass incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020

A comprehensive report, put together by the Prison Policy Initiative, that explains the whole picture of mass incarceration. Read this report to better understand the reasons behind mass incarceration, and its racial disparities, in the United States.

Criminal Justice Alternatives to Incarceration (CJATI) Annual Report, 2019

Written by David Sanders, the Tompkins County Criminal Justice Coordinator, the annual report on the CJATI group highlights areas of growth and stagnation in the fight to reduce incarceration in Tompkins County.

Download Powerpoint Presentation

An Open Letter to Our Friends on the Question of Language

In 2005, the NuLeadership Policy Group, led by Eddie Ellis, initiated a campaign to use the word “people” instead of using language such as inmate, convict, prisoner, or felon. This campaign was part of a broader effort “to assist our transition from prison to communities as responsible citizens and to create a more positive human image of ourselves.”