Since 1999, Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) has created pathways for students in prison to earn college degrees with the highest level of academic integrity. BPI enrolls 400 students, including more than 300 across six NY State prisons and 90 through Bard microcollege partnerships. The program also includes professionally oriented coursework in prison that lays the academic groundwork for careers in public health, education and computer science by building on the liberal arts degree.
To date, more than 560 BPI and microcollege students have earned Bard degrees. Like most colleges, BPI offers the advising, career services and networking opportunities of an alumni affairs office with the specialized supports characteristic of a conventional reentry program for students and alumni coming home from prison. This grant supports BPI’s leadership through the creation the Leonard and Claire Tow Chair in Democracy and Education (Tow Chair). The Tow Chair is an endowed leadership position to be held by the executive director of BPI.