We are convinced that higher education has a critical role to play in moving our country away from mass incarceration. In prison, college classes generate hope, direction, and purpose.
Access to higher education can improve the economic trajectories of families and communities. When one family member goes to college, others often follow. APBP has seen the impact of the book clubs on individuals as well as on their children, spouses, and loved ones.
Beyond these positive outcomes, educational programs also make prisons safer for those who live and work within them.
Higher Education in Prison Initiative
The APBP Higher Education in Prison Initiative hopes to support credit-bearing college courses in prison, beginning in fall 2020. For over four years, APBP has been facilitating college-level book clubs and leading educational workshops inside area prisons. In fall 2017, APBP founder Katy Ryan taught a West Virginia University English class at a federal prison in West Virginia.
Scholarships for Formerly Incarcerated People
In addition to a college-in-prison program, we plan to create five $1,000 college scholarships for formerly incarcerated people.
Educational Justice and Appalachian Prisons Symposium
The Educational Justice and Appalachian Prisons Symposium, held in 2014, brought together people interested in higher education in prison, restorative justice, re-entry initiatives, and prison book projects. Funded by a West Virginia Humanities Council grant and co-coordinated by APBP and the West Virginia University Department of English, the three-day symposium enriched attendees’ understanding of issues affecting Appalachian prisons and prepared them to implement action plans related to educational justice.