Lifelong educator David Domenici is working to ensure that incarcerated students get the opportunity to
go to school.

Every year, more than 200,000 young people are held in hundreds of juvenile-detention centers across the U.S. And, while most juvenile-detention centers have educational programs, many do not provide a quality education to the students in their care.

For more than two decades, David Domenici has been working to change that. He co-founded the Maya Angelou Schools, a successful network of alternative schools in Washington, D.C., that includes the Maya Angelou Academy, located inside Washington’s long-term, secure juvenile-facility. In 2011, he founded the BreakFree Education in an effort to improve education in juvenile-correctional facilities around the country.

Today, BreakFree Education works closely with over a dozen state and county juvenile-justice agencies, and operates in nearly 50 sites, working directly with incarcerated students and teachers, advocating for policy change, and advising prison educational programs. Notably, BreakFree Education runs the Travis Hill Schools in New Orleans, located inside of the city’s juvenile-detention center and adult jail.

“By ensuring young people in prison receive the education they deserve, we can help restore their humanity and dignity, and positively influence the institutions that hold them captive,” he says, “leading to a smaller, truly rehabilitative criminal-justice system.”