Bard Prison Initiative

College education opportunities to incarcerated students

Grantee Cohort Fall 2018, Fall 2019

Location National

Founded in 2001, Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) was one of the first programs in the country to offer college education to incarcerated students following the ban on federal funding for higher education in prison. Beginning as a pilot program with 15 students, the program has grown immensely and currently offers college courses in six New York State facilities, enrolls more than 300 incarcerated students annually, and has conferred more than 450 degrees.

With the continued support of the Fund, BPI is ramping up its organizational development and building on the attention gained from the production of the film “College Behind Bars.” It’s focused on opportunities to generate press and strategic social media campaigns to promote the organization’s mission and vision, share stories of BPI alumni to highlight obstacles faced by people returning home and compound advocacy efforts for the expansion of college-in-prison programs. The film will widen the reach of BPI’s vision of expanding higher education to people in prison across the nation, sparking conversation around reentry and criminal justice reform.