New Website Outlines a Path to College for Court-involved and Formerly Incarcerated People

College Initiative Upstate is an organization well deserving of attention, praise, and support.

They’re programs build community and create opportunities for people who are court-involved or formerly incarcerated.

This week they announced their brand new website – which was completed in partnership with the Durland Alternatives Library and our new Community Supported Website Program!

Check it out at

(Announcement and info about getting involved in the CSW coming on August 4th!)

Here is the official announcement, from Benay Rubenstein

Dear CIU Community and Friends,

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of CIU’s new website, reflecting the many facets and faces of our remarkable community. This website is a labor of love, built during the past three months by Sara Jenab, Benay Rubenstein, and the incredible webmaster Ryan Clover (Durland Alternatives Library).

We believe that the website is a powerful confirmation that CIU’s work is alive and well and will continue despite the uncertainty of the pandemic.

You are invited to take a slow walk through the many sections of our website where you can: read inspiring personal stories, learn about CIU’s History, meet “Friends Who Led The Way on our dedication page, explore links to videos, articles, and resources related to CIU, and get to know current and past CIU staff.

Please also enjoy the many areas where we feature our students, including the Student Gallery, a Featured Students section, and three photo albums – College Prep, Graduation, and Events . . . students—see if you can find yourselves!

For the first time you will be able to view The Last Graduation (1997) on-line. This award-winning video directed and produced by Barbara Zahm and co-produced by Benay Rubenstein, documenting the history of higher education in NYS prisons.

Our deepest hope is that this site highlights the importance of CIU’s mission, better connects us to the larger community, and provides a venue for successful fundraising. If you have the means, we have set a fundraising goal of $5,000 to help offset some of the anticipated budget cuts during the upcoming academic year:

Please help us spread the word about our new website by forwarding it to your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who might be interested in our mission to create pathways to college for justice-involved students living in Tompkins County. If you know someone who might benefit from becoming a CIU student, please introduce us.

We welcome questions, comments, and contributions in support of CIU’s students. This is a time when unity and support will make all the difference in CIU’s ability to continue our transformational work.

With optimism and gratitude to our students and everyone who makes CIU’s work possible,


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Ryan Clover-Owens

I'm on a mission to prove that we can live in a society that reconciles with our history, respects difference, cherishes the land and animals, and can create solutions to the challenges we face.