Welcome to Concord Prison Outreach
Concord Prison Outreach (CPO) dates back to 1968, when its first volunteers helped to support people in a local prison infirmary. Since those early days, we developed into the largest organization of our kind in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We are a 501 (c) (3) organization composed of a coalition of individuals and faith communities committed to helping people who are incarcerated build better lives for themselves and their families. We work cooperatively with the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC), offering educational programs that focus on skill-building and personal growth; essentials we believe will help support people in prison to achieve success post-incarceration. Our programs serve eight prisons and one jail in Massachusetts. Hundreds of individuals and nearly forty faith communities join us in our mission to offer compassion, education and opportunity to those behind bars.
We recruit, train, and support volunteers to implement effective programs that teach valuable skills to people in prison. Our programs fall into five areas: (1) education, (2) vocation, (3) socio-emotion, (4) arts and humanities and (5) families and children. Our programs cover a wide range of subjects from Adult Basic Education and English Language Learners (tutoring students to pass their high school equivalency test) to Entrepreneurship, Basic Computer Skills, Restorative Justice, Art, Meditation, and Parenting. We also offer community outreach programs and sponsor events in the larger Boston community to help raise awareness and understanding about the criminal justice system.
The resources and care that CPO volunteers help provide are beyond calculation. Nearly five decades since we started our work inside Massachusetts prisons, we have realized significant accomplishments, not all of which are statistically measurable or immediately obvious. When people in prison gain skill-specific certifications, pass state and national exams, and advance in levels of education, it helps them secure employment and prepare for civic life after prison. Building relationships with family and loved ones, as evidenced with our family literacy programs (which help parents teach literacy to their children), profoundly interrupts the revolving door of mass incarceration. And, the rewards are mutual – volunteers, past and present, as well as the people who participate in CPO programs are deeply enriched. The fact that the Department of Correction considers us to be one of their most valued partners is evidenced by their invitation for CPO to shepherd educational pursuits, develop new programs, and expand existing ones. Other states are now looking to CPO to help replicate our model elsewhere.