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SPEAK is Back at CRCF!

After a pandemic-induced break, we are proud to announce that the SPEAK program has started up again at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility ("CRCF"). SPEAK brings advocacy, rhetoric, argument, and persuasion into the prison setting, and brings debate students into the role of teachers. We have just hit our stride and the group continues to grow!

And with that growth, we are very excited to announce that we have brought on board a fantastic consultant to help train our volunteers and lead programming at CRCF. Please join us in welcoming Justin Morgan-Parmett, Lawrence Debate Union Co-Director and faculty member in the English Department at UVM. Justin brings with him decades of debate coaching experience along with significant experience working with incarcerated individuals in Vermont. Justin is thrilled to join the SPEAK team, and we feel very fortunate to have him with us!

We often hear participants at our CRCF programs suggest we come more frequently or for longer, and they leave with excitement to come back the following week. It is not only the incarcerated individuals that are benefiting, as our UVM student participants also find the classroom experience a rewarding one. Here are just a few testimonials from the work being done this semester:

The SPEAK program was my first time entering a United States prison, and it’s an experience I think everyone should have. Just the preparatory courses gave me an entirely new outlook on what it means to be incarcerated. I’m so thankful to Justin and the SPEAK program for giving me the chance to both share my passion for debate, and bring something valuable to the lives of the women in CRCF. -- Emily
My favorite part about debate is the challenge. It’s been such a pleasure and new challenge to take on a teaching role through SPEAK, and I love seeing the power of debate in another environment. -- Maggie
Working in the prison has helped me figure out what I want to do with my career. I now know that I want to go into prison reform. I hope that although things can feel really dark with the many many societal issues, that at least I’m making some change for some individuals. -- Ariel

If you are interested in our work and looking for ways to contribute, we are pleased to announce that SPEAK will be launching a fundraiser next week for Giving Tuesday! One of our very generous donors has offered to match contributions to SPEAK up to $5,000 for our fundraiser. Please consider donating to help us reach our goal and build sustainable SPEAK programs into the future!

Can't wait until Giving Tuesday to donate? No worries--you can give early! Your donation will still count towards our matching $5K challenge!

  • Click the donation link

  • Give what you can, knowing it'll be DOUBLED for our Giving Tuesday Fundraiser!

  • Please feel free to spread the word - share this post and encourage others to join in!

Thank you for your continued support for SPEAK!


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