Last week, the New York State budget included a major victory for educational equity, ending a 26-year-old ban on access to need-based Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants for incarcerated students. Having myself attended college while incarcerated, I can attest to the importance of the… Read More
Reimagining the place of higher education.
The BPI Summer Residency
Our immersive two-week sequence of workshops for emerging leaders and practitioners in the field of college-in-prison returned to Bard’s Annandale campus for its 4th year.
By The Numbers
Public Health at BPI
From in-prison classrooms to graduate schools and careers, students and alumni are rising to meet the urgent demand for trained professionals and visionary leaders in public health.
It Starts in the Classroom
See how BPI’s Public Health Program prepares students and alumni for careers in public health.
Public Health Fellows 2021
The fifth annual BPI Public Health Fellowship Symposium featured the 2021 Public Health Fellows’ virtual presentations of their projects captured in the video above and the conversations linked below.
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BPI was proud to partner with College and Community Fellowship’s #TurnOnTheTapNY campaign to restore access to New York’s state-level need-based student grants, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for incarcerated students.
This movement took on renewed urgency following Congress’s reinstatement of Pell Grant access to incarcerated students in 2020. After the federal Pell ban in 1994, New York implemented a ban on TAP eligibility in 1995. As a result, the number of college-in-prison programs in New York fell from over 70 to 4. The bipartisan restoration of Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students is a clear political endorsement of the value of college-in-prison, signaling to New York that it is past time to also restore TAP.
To learn more about the restoration of TAP, read Jessica Neptune’s – the Director of National Engagement – blog post here & Executive Director, Max Kenner’s, letter to our supporters here.
In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act made people in prison ineligible for Pell Grants. After the ‘94 Crime Bill, state lawmakers followed the federal lead and rescinded state-level tuition assistance programs. College-in-prison, which had been common in prisons across the country, collapsed.
BPI was founded in 1999, in the wake of the decimation of college-in-prison. For 26 years, BPI joined other advocates in championing the return of Pell eligibility for incarcerated students. In 2016, BPI was proud to join the first cohort of sites receiving experimental eligibility through Second Chance Pell. In December 2020 Congress finally restored Pell Grant eligibility as part of the omnibus spending and COVID relief bill. Following the development of regulations issued by the US Department of Education, incarcerated students who are enrolled in approved programs are expected to be eligible for Pell in the 2023-2024 academic year. In August 2022, BPI joined colleagues across the field in issuing public comments in response to the Department of Education’s proposed regulatory language. Read BPI’s open letter here.
As public funding of college-in-prison returns to the field the question shifts from Will there be college-in-prison? to What will the field of college-in-prison look like? With so much at stake, BPI is doubling down on our commitments to national engagement in policy and practice including The BPI Summer Residency for emerging programs and practitioners.
This July we saw a major legislative victory in New York, spearheaded by BPI alumni. In early 2020 BPI began working with lawmakers to change Merit Board eligibility rules so that all incarcerated students can be eligible for early release based on earning college credits. In spring 2021 the NYS legislature passed the bill, and it was signed into law in July 2021.
Learn more about this important amendment to the Merit Board rules, and its disproportionate impact on incarcerated women, on our blog.
Helping prisoners go to college helps New York
Press Release: TURN ON THE TAP NY PRAISES GOVERNOR HOCHUL FOR INCLUDING TUITION ASSISTANCE FOR INCARCERATED NEW YORKERS IN BUDGET
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 18, 2022 CONTACT: Eric Koch | email@example.com TURN ON THE TAP NY PRAISES GOVERNOR HOCHUL FOR INCLUDING TUITION ASSISTANCE FOR INCARCERATED NEW YORKERS IN BUDGET Siena Poll Today Showed Huge, Bipartisan Majorities For Programs That Lower Barriers to Incarcerated New Yorkers Re-Entering Society ALBANY,… Read More
WBAI’s On the Count – The Prison And Criminal Justice Report
In this episode, listen to an in-depth conversation with Max Kenner '01, alumnus Dyjuan Tatro '18, and Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of College & Community Fellowship who discuss the impact of federal Pell Grant restoration; what's next for TAP restoration in New York; the… Read More
BPI and College Behind Bars in The Appeal
The Appeal featured several segments about BPI in two Justice in America podcast episodes, as well as an op-ed. Check out more details below: 4/22/2019 Justice in America Episode 29: Schools in Prison Josie Duffy Rice and co-host Derecka Purnell are joined by Dyjuan Tatro '18 and… Read More
College Behind Bars with Max Kenner and Sebastian Yoon
The Bard Prison Initiative is a revolutionary program that provides a rigorous college education to men and women in prison. In one of our most power episodes ever, BPI’s founder Max Kenner and recent graduate Sebastian Yoon join Adam this week to discuss how… Read More
What Happens When Incarcerated People Get a World-Class Education?
One graduate, featured in a new PBS documentary, shares the ups and downs of earning a degree behind bars. In the fall of 2015, a maximum-security prison in New York invited Harvard’s debate team to compete against a squad of three incarcerated men. The men,… Read More
Incarcerated People Can Do More than Beat Harvard in a Debate
“College Behind Bars,” a new PBS documentary executive-produced by Ken Burns, shines a light on a program that every major university in America should be sponsoring By Jamil Smith When you watch College Behind Bars, which began last night on PBS and concludes tonight, or any… Read More