stack of paperback books

Announcing Our 2021‒2022 Education Scholarship Winners

We are excited to announce the winners of the inaugural APBP education scholarship: Darrin Lester and Beau Baker!

About the Winners

Darrin and Beau are both students enrolled in universities in the state of West Virginia. Each $2,500 scholarship can be used for tuition, books, supplies, or other costs associated with their academic journey.

Darrin Lester

Darrin Lester is an educator and a mentor who spent about 30 years in prison. During his last 12 years at Mount Olive, he completed a bachelor’s degree and co-founded the Olive Tree Initiative, a peer education program that inspires men to realize their full potential. He describes himself “grateful, amazed, and inspired by the circumstances that have led me to this place in my life.”

man wearing white shirt sitting at a wooden desk with a laptop

Determined to create meaningful change, Darrin will be pursuing a graduate degree in social work.

Beau Baker

Beau described his reaction to receiving the award as “overwhelmed with gratitude. This is going to help me tremendously being it’s my first year of college and everything is still very new to me.”

man dressed in a white shirt and tie sitting on a wooden table

Beau was sentenced to juvenile drug court at 17 and spent most of his adult life in prison. He now works as a peer recovery coach and assists others struggling with addiction. He wants to stay present, set and reach new goals, and take care of his daughter. Beau is working toward a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Our Commitment to Education

Postsecondary institutions in the United States, including colleges and universities, have historically created barriers for formerly incarcerated people to pursue higher education, in part by reinforcing stigmas. One way APBP is challenging these barriers is through the education scholarship.

Katy Ryan, APBP’s education coordinator and founder, described the scholarship as one of the organization’s most important developments:

“Since we’ve been unable to go inside prisons because of COVID-19, we’ve been creating other ways to support educational efforts. We’re especially grateful to Jeff Schneider who made a special donation to fund this scholarship initiative. It’s been an absolute joy to launch.”

We’re excited about the future of our education scholarship program. It’s going to lead to more good things.

Support the Appalachian Prison Book Project

At APBP, we rely on donations and volunteers to provide books and educational opportunities to people on the inside. Get involved today to help us continue challenging mass incarceration.

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