In another step to significantly improve the lives of low-income children and their parents in the United States, Ascend at the Aspen Institute launched the $1 Million Aspen Institute Ascend Fund.Learn more
Reverend Vivian Nixon
New York, NY
Ascend Action Plan: Reverend Vivian Nixon, the Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), is developing a two-generation model to provide formerly incarcerated mothers and their children with educational opportunities, economic supports, and access to stronger social capital, such as trusted networks and community organizations. CCF assists these women in pursuit of higher education, leadership skills, and career paths that lead to economic security. In 13 years of operation, CCF has maintained an 82 percent retention rate, an 80 percent graduation rate, and a recidivism rate of fewer than 2 percent. Many (40 percent) go on to earn an advanced degree.
As part of Rev. Nixon’s efforts to integrate a two-generation approach into the New York City-based program, she is working with an evaluation and learning partner to incorporate access to a number of services into existing CCF programming, including health education, career development services, and early childhood development opportunities.
Biography: Reverend Vivian Nixon is the Executive Director of the College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an innovative organization that assists formerly incarcerated women in pursuit of higher education, leadership skills, and career paths that lead to economic security. Rev. Nixon came to CCF in 2001 as a student, following a period of incarceration during which, as a peer educator to other incarcerated women, she became painfully aware that lack of education severely impedes the ability to escape the cycle of poverty and recidivism. In 2003, while completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services Administration at the State University of New York Empire College, Rev. Nixon became lead organizer at CCF. In 2006, she became executive director. The number of program participants has grown exponentially under her leadership. More than 190 CCF participants have earned college and graduate degrees. Fewer than 2 percent have had subsequent criminal justice involvement.
Rev. Nixon serves on the board of directors of the Fortune Society and on the advisory boards of several other organizations. She has received multiple honors including the Soros Justice Fellowship, the Petra Foundation Fellowship, the Hudson Link for Higher Education Brian Fischer Award, the Citizens Against Recidivism Mary McLeod Bethune Award, and the Correctional Association of New York Lifting As We Climb Award. Her leadership in educational advocacy includes co-chairing “Education from the Inside Out,” a collaborative campaign to restore eligibility for Pell Grants to incarcerated students.