In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” That quote rings true to students of Inside Literature, a local nonprofit dedicated to teaching pre-trial inmates reading skills through great works of literature.
Imagine doing time without fully understanding your potential release because you can’t read or can’t fully comprehend what you’re reading. For many inmates, this is reality. And the fear and uncertainty of assimilating back into society, uneducated, can be scary for those on both sides of the prison cell doors.
Knowledge Can Make the Difference
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Inside Literature’s mission is to foster personal growth with the most educationally underserved members of the community: the incarcerated. The program gives inmates the opportunity to learn about great works of literature, taught by instructors with advanced degrees in related fields. The university-level literature courses are six-weeks long and offered at no cost to taxpayers.
Assistant Director of Public Relations Karen Pagani explained how the organization uses a unique teaching approach with an emphasis on reflection, as well as collaboration and reciprocity. “The program strives to enrich students’ academic experience and encourage civic engagement, while confronting community challenges and supporting community interests. Literature allows students a mediated approach to sensitive topics like identity, race, employment, etc., and promotes community ties.”
“Something Else to Talk About”
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One student of the program says literature class has changed his life and given him hope. “To interact with the other guys in class on a level not convict-related has given me the gift of better understanding and respect for my peers.” Inmates attend courses only by choice, but those who attend get an education they’d never receive elsewhere. And possibly a fresh perspective on their futures.
Attend the Annual Spring Gala
If you’d like to get involved, either as an educator or donor, consider attending Inside Literature’s Annual Spring Gala intended to raise funds and awareness. The event will take place at Peached Social House on April 10, 2019, from 7 to 10 p.m. and will feature live music, appetizers, cocktails, and a silent auction.
Sponsors for the event include:
- The Alamo Drafthouse
- The University of Texas
- The Blanton Museum
- Austin Boxing Babes
- Bacchus and Brown
- Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches
- Big Bertha’s Paradise Vintage
- Eliza Page Jewelry
- Time and Place Photography
For more information, visit Inside Literature’s website.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What are your thoughts on Inside Literature’s mission and classes?
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