Returning Citizen Fellows Program

What is the RCF Program? 

The Returning Citizen Fellows program (RCF) is a cohort structured student success and persistence program for individuals who were formerly incarcerated in and/or with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).

As a program, the RCF’s primary intention is to provide Fellows a support system within EMU and external to EMU as a way to help navigate both the complexities of higher education as well as the challenges to reentry, post-incarceration. The Fellows program is designed in tandem with MDOC Offender Success Model. 

Driving Values of this project 

  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Transparency
  • Access 
  • Social and Economic Mobility
  • Resource Navigation

Media Coverage

January 6, 2021: EMU pilot program aims to remove barriers to college education for the formerly incarcerated

February 17, 2021: Eastern Michigan University launches pilot program for formerly incarcerated students

  • Criteria to be a Fellow

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    As a way to evaluate program efficacy and effectiveness, the pilot project seeks to include Fellows with a diverse background in areas of post-secondary coursework (e.g. pre-incarceration, during, or post-incarceration), time served, and amount of time released.  It is critical that the RCF program be a path to possibility and not exclusively require or admit individuals who have had prior college experience or coursework.  

    Specific requirements include: 

    • Current resident of Michigan
    • High School completion 
    • 3 months post-incarceration, post-secondary experience, and/or affirmation by A Brighter Way (ABW) as college-ready
    • Pell Grant eligibility determined by a FAFSA application

    Applicants for this pilot cohort are required to: 

  • Requirements of being an RCF Fellow (once accepted into the cohort)

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    • Participate as a mentee through A Brighter Way (non-profit), and subsequently participate in all relevant and required programming
    • Participate in monthly RCF cohort meetings and be involved in regular communication with the Success Coach
    • Maintain a 2.5 GPA over two semesters (for pilot program)   
    • Enroll in consecutive semesters
    • Pell Grant eligibility
    • Enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours*
  • What does EMU provide?

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    • Cost of Tuition, excluding most fees (These funds will be a combination of Pell and University grants)
      • Note: Fellowship funds are contingent on the number of enrolled credit hours. Fellows can receive full tuition coverage for 12 credits or a small stipend for part-time. 
    • Community Work Study Program involvement (If able and eligible)
    • College/Success Coach (Robust academic navigation support through the Office of Engage )
    • Employment/Resources & Navigation Support
  • What does A Brighter Way provide?

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    • Social Support 
    • Wholistic Mentoring (Purpose, passion, and community engagement)
    • Resource & System Navigation

    To participate in A Brighter Way's Mentor program (a requirement of the fellowship program), connect with them here or contact them directly at [email protected]

  • What is the Michigan Department of Corrections' Offender Success Program?

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    • Offender Success has had a long term partnership with the A Brighter Way program located in Washtenaw County. They provide various supports and services to individuals released from prison.
  • Additional Assistance

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    Questions, Concerns, and Application Assistance:
    [email protected]

    Additional Documentation:
    Dianna LaFraugh
    Reentry Coordinator
    Michigan Department of Corrections
    (517) 780-6148
    [email protected]


    Companies That Hire People With Criminal Records (via Washtenaw County)

  • Navigation: Returning Citizens AmeriCorps Program 

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    This program situates 18-22 AmeriCorps members to serve as Navigation Coaches to formerly incarcerated individuals (both those on parole and non-parole) pursuing post-secondary experiences including community college, four year college, certified training programs and professional certificates at college/university sites, the County Sheriff’s Re-Entry program and re-entry focused non-profits in Washtenaw County, Michigan. Click here to visit the program webpage and learn more. 

Thank you to our funder.

Picture of AAACF logo.