In June 2015, local Harding alumnus Dr. Jeffery Kreh founded an organization committed to giving inmates a second chance through higher education.
“Education changes people,” Kreh said while he explained how education affects an inmate’s behavior after being released.
Kreh’s passion for helping inmates began in October 2003 when he and a group of friends performed a vocal concert for 350 inmates. Kreh said he was touched by the enthusiasm of the inmates and that God began placing the vision of Likewise Inc. on his heart.
Kreh said while performing for the prisoners he thought there was something more he could do.
“Two things can make the greatest difference,” President Bruce McLarty, a member of the Executive Advisory Council for Likewise Inc., said. “The first is a faith commitment that gives people the power to change in their lives, and the second would be an education that gives them an opportunity that they never imagined before.”
According to Kreh, after years of working on curriculum and issues of legality, Likewise Inc. was founded in June 2015.
The name of the organization stems from Luke 10:27 where Jesus calls the disciples to “do likewise.” Kreh said his desire is to have a “great commission approach to learning.”
This fall, Kreh and his team are planning to implement their program for the first time into Tucker Unit, an Arkansas Department of Corrections prison southeast of Little Rock, Arkansas. According to Kreh the program will begin with a five week course that will aid in determining which prisoners are more dedicated to learning and will have priority on the associate degree program wait list
After this aspect of the program is fully functioning, the next step is to provide an education in a family setting for the children of prisoners, Kreh said. His dream is to connect the families of prisoners with religious organizations and home-schooled families who are willing to take these children from broken homes and educate them along side their own children.
After the program is fully functioning, there will be many opportunities for Harding students to become involved, especially in the areas of teaching. Likewise Inc. will be looking for teachers who have a passion for educating those in need.
Students who have recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree will be eligible to teach within the program, since only associates degrees are being earned within the prison during the first stages, according to Kreh.
Other universities take part in prison programs as well. Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, participates in a program called LIFE (Lipscomb Initiative For Education) according to founder and coordinator Robert Goode from Lipscomb University.
The LIFE program takes teachers and female Lipscomb students into the women’s prison to have class with inmates.
After the semester has ended, many students “will go visit on weekends and continue that friendship for years,” Goode said.
For more information or to get involved with Likewise Inc. contact Kreh at email@example.com.