By Max Kenner
Dear PrisonEducation.com Readers,
Twelve and a half years ago, I spent the summer driving across New York State, from prison to prison, looking for some good news and partners to help establish Bard Prison Initiative.
Those were the bad old days. Just a few years before, the federal government eliminated funding for college-in-prison. In a flash, college opportunity vanished from correctional systems across the country. While many things have improved since then, the government hasn’t reinvested. We know educational opportunity transforms outcomes of the justice system. Given the crisis of mass incarceration, we just can’t wait for Congress to lead the way.
I’m tremendously proud that Bard Prison Initiative has been leading the way for thirteen years: first establishing extraordinary college programs in prisons across New York, then replicating the work across the country. Today, 275 incarcerated women and men are enrolled with Bard College across New York. This spring, Consortium partners such as Wesleyan University, Grinnell College, and the University of Notre Dame, will enroll more than 700 students across nine states. Together, we’re radically redefining what college access can look like if universities have the courage to do things a little differently.
That’s not all. Here in New York, Bard Prison Initiative alumni are enrolled at graduate schools from Yale to NYU. Many are thriving in business, the arts, or social services, giving back to their communities. For Bardians just returning home from prison facing great challenges, we make sure that each one is prepared and supported during the transition.
Bard Prison Initiative has come a long way since that summer driving between Attica, Malone, and Wyoming, NY. We’ve become a recognized national leader and are creating a dynamic network of alumni who are becoming leaders in their own right. As the year winds down, your support is as crucial as ever. Please, if you haven’t already, make a gift to Bard Prison Initiative and help keep our college and community thriving.
Max Kenner ’01
P.S. Your gift can be made online at bpi.bard.edu/giving or by calling 845-758-7332.
Bard Prison Initiative
P.O. Box 5000
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000