Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL), the innovative alternative sentencing program that was founded on the UMass Dartmouth campus in 1991, has received a $20,000 grant from the Coolidge Family Fund of the Boston Foundation to develop new programs.
Founding Director Professor Robert Waxler has co-led CLTL for the past 15 years with Professor Jean Trounstine of Middlesex Community College. "Gloria Coolidge's generosity will help us further demonstrate how literature and justice work as partners to build a truly democratic society," Professor Waxler said.
) aims to use the new money to increase the number of program graduates, which already numbers over 4,500 from its unique probation program, where offenders, judges, probation officers and professors all discuss great works of literature in a book group format, helping to divert men and women from crime and empower them to change their lives. CLTL programs are currently active in Kansas, Texas, Arizona, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Indiana, Florida, and Britain.
Gloria Coolidge's husband, Jeffrey, a volunteer at the Lynn District Court, became committed to CLTL because he was inspired by Judge Joseph Dever's devotion to the Lynn-Lowell Women's CLTL program. Coolidge saw that offenders who had previously been stuck in a cycle of crime were able to find new ways of thinking and often found the road back to education and stable jobs through their involvement with CLTL.
The Massachusetts State Legislature, the Trial Court, has funded several CLTL programs. In 2003, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded CLTL $200,000 through to develop a website and a CD-Rom that continues to make the program accessible to court judges, probation officers, students and educators across the world.