In February of 2022, RISE launched a pilot in-unit program at the Nebraska State Penitentiary where program participants live together in an intentional learning community while attending classes five days a week. Those selected to participate in the “RISE Academy” live in a 40-bed wing of a housing unit along with a handful of previous graduates serving as peer facilitators.
The program serves individuals living in Housing Unit 2; a unit of individuals at a higher security level. They historically have less access to programming and have higher needs when returning to our communities.
Using evidence-based program interventions, RISE’s pilot program had a significant impact including a 50% reduction in the frequency and severity of misconduct reports during the program period. Thanks to the work of our Program Associate Bryan Dahlberg and our team of peer facilitators, RISE is making a significant impact by challenging participants to shift mindsets, resolve problems without violence, communicate effectively and stay focused on goals for the future.
Meeting more frequently opened the door for opportunities to participate in supplementary coursework, including an eight-week creative writing and poetry workshop facilitated by the Nebraska Writers Collective called “Writers’ Block.” This program provides a creative avenue for participants to process and heal as they work through the pivotal character development portions of the RISE curriculum. RISE also partners with Lutheran Family Services on a 12-week “Nurturing Fathers” course which provides additional tools for healthy parenting.
In 2022, we graduated five classes from four facilities and held two community graduations for those who completed the coursework while living in the community.