Gateways for Incarcerated Youth: Acknowledging the Past, Claiming the Future

Fall 2016
Winter 2017
Class Size: 20
Credits per quarter

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This program offers Evergreen students the opportunity to co-learn with individuals incarcerated in a medium/maximum-security institution for juvenile males institution (Green Hill Institution in Chehalis, Washington). It is high stakes work that demands consistent engagement and self reflection—approximately 10-12 hours a week in class and 4-6 hours a week at the institution (including travel time) and a 20 hour a quarter involvement in other activities (such as fundraising) that help support and expand the educational resources available to the incarcerated youth.

A fundamental principle of the Gateways program is that every person has talents and valuable experiences that can contribute to our shared learning. It is our job as human creatures to encourage each other to seek out and develop our passions and gifts. These values are manifested in the practices of popular education, central to our work in the prison classroom.

Our goal is to create an environment in which each person becomes empowered to share their knowledge, creativity, values and goals by connecting respectfully with people from other cultural and class backgrounds. The main feature of popular education is that it empowers those seeking education to be the local experts in shaping their own course of study. Popular education works through conscientization, the ongoing process of joining with others to examine socioeconomic conditions, to reflect critically on those conditions, and thereby to imagine new possibilities for living. In order to do this work successfully, students will practice learning how to meet other learners "where they are at" (literally, in order to better understand the conditions that put some of us in prisons and others in colleges). Students will also develop or hone their skills in contextualizing and analyzing socioeconomic phenomena. Most importantly, students will learn that solidarity does not mean "saving" other people or solving their problems—it means creating conditions that allow them to articulate those problems through genuine dialogue and supporting them as they work toward their own solutions.

Program participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how different individuals access and manifest their learning as they gain experience in facilitating discussions and workshops. In the process of collectively shaping the Gateways seminar, they will also learn how to organize productive meetings and work through conflict. Students will take increasing responsibility for designing, implementing and assessing the program workshops and seminars. Throughout the program we will seek to expand our collective knowledge about various kinds of relative advantage or privilege while continually working to create a space that is welcoming and generative for all learners.

High stakes community-based work requires trust, and trust requires sustained commitment.  This program requires that all participants be ready to fully commit themselves to the program.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

juvenile justice, education, law, policy, social work, and community organizing.


Credits per quarter


Participating students are required by Green Hill to submit and pass a background check in order to work on site.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$50 per quarter for overnight field trips.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 20

Scheduled for: Day

Advertised schedule:

First winter class meeting: Tuesday, January 10th at 10am (Sem II E3105)

Located in: Olympia

2016-05-10Fees reduced.
2016-02-17New opportunity added.