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Pan-African Studies Community Education Progam workshop teaches life skills after incarceration

By Ayooluwa Ariyo

"While serving a five-year prison sentence, Jeffrey Abramowitz resolved to make the most of his time. He read nearly 1,000 books, including George Orwell’s “1984,” and taught about 50 classes in subjects like political science, business and math.

Abramowitz was at the United States Penitentiary, Canaan — a high-security federal prison in Waymart, Pennsylvania — for embezzlement in March 2012. He spent the first two years of his sentence at the Federal Detention Center on Arch Street near 7th.

“For so long, I took so much for granted,” Abramowitz said. “As a trial lawyer, I had everything. I had the house, the cars, the family.”

“I took the time to really figure out what I wanted to do in life, what was important to me and tried to think about the lessons that I was being handed, and I made the best of my time away,” he said. “I found that teaching was what I needed to do, and helping people find work and employment and get motivated became my passion.”

Abramowitz is the founder and CEO of the National Workforce Opportunity Network, a career agency that helps formerly incarcerated people find employment. This organization partners with Temple’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program — a low-cost, non-credit adult education program for Philadelphia residents — to provide re-entry services for Philadelphia citizens returning to society after incarceration.

Every Tuesday, Abramowitz leads the Next Step Reentry Workshop in PASCEP’s office in the Entertainment and Community Education Center on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street. The class focuses on navigating re-entry after incarceration, dealing with criminal background histories and getting back to work."

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