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Prisoners Donate to Give Students a Better Shot at Success


CONTACT: Chris Gautz, MDOC Public Information Officer


                    Bob Wheaton, MDHHS Public Information Officer


Prisoners Donate to Give Students a Better Shot at Success

Inmates at southeast Michigan prisons donate more than $27,000 to benefit students in need at

Pathways to Potential schools

As fall approaches, many families in Michigan are searching for ways to prepare their student for the upcoming school year. Some need help obtaining back-to-school basics and Michigan prisoners have stepped up to assist.

Students at schools across the state have benefited from the generosity of prisoners, who have been among the biggest contributors to the Dress Them for Success project offered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Pathways to Potential program. The project helps students prepare for school by providing them with needed uniforms, school supplies and personal care products. The effort can help improve attendance by supplying students with items they need to be successful.

Inmates at Michigan Department of Corrections facilities statewide have donated more than $53,000 to the project since it began in 2012.

“Prisoners are proud to support a program that helps students achieve success in school,” said Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. “Education is one of the key components to preventing criminal behavior, and helping children to focus on school and stay in school is something we should all strive to do.”

Prisoners at southeast Michigan correctional facilities have contributed more than $27,000 alone to the project.

“They could relate to students feeling anxious about going back to school because they didn’t have clothes that fit or school supplies they needed,” said Anthony Stewart, warden of Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, which contributed $20,000. “They wanted to help encourage students to stay in school and avoid a path that might lead them to prison.”

“We applaud the compassion prisoners showed toward these students by electing to use their funds to generously invest in student success.”

Many of the prisoners were so passionate about this cause that they even included encouragement and notes of support with their donation. One inmate begged his readers to stay in school:

“… We need positive young boys and girls (young men and women), such as yourself to guide others to do the right thing. You have something that others do not have. You have us that [have] learned through our experiences and now we are willing to invest in you. It is an honor for me to be able to write to you. Be encouraged and please stay in school …”

The Dress Them for Success project addresses one of the critical goals of Pathways, which is to remove barriers to school attendance.

“These uniform donations have a direct, positive impact on student success in Pathways schools,” said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon. “When students do not have uniforms or their uniforms are worn or poorly fitting, their attendance suffers. By partnering with other agencies such as the Michigan Department of Corrections, we are able to get them the uniforms they need which in turn gets them back in the class room and back on the path to success.”

Pathways to Potential places MDHHS caseworkers in schools so that they can remove barriers to the success of students and their families.

Pathways is expanding to at least 10 more counties during the upcoming school year. Those counties are Benzie, Berrien, Clare, Gladwin, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Jackson, Kalkaska, Manistee and Ontonagon.

That is in addition to the more than 200 existing Pathways schools in 22 counties.

Those counties are: Bay, Calhoun, Genesee, Huron, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Macomb, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oakland, Ogemaw, Ottawa, Roscommon, Saginaw, St. Clair, Tuscola, Washtenaw and Wayne.

Read more about the prisoner donation success story.

Anyone can contribute to Pathways to Potential to help students achieve success in school. Donations can be made online at