An award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund a collaboration with the Yale Prison Education Initiative to create a degree-granting program for incarcerated students in Connecticut.
April 15, 2021
The University of New Haven has received a three-year $1.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of a degree-granting collaboration with the Yale Prison Education Initiative (YPEI) at Dwight Hall at Yale for incarcerated students in Connecticut.
YPEI and the University of New Haven are establishing a flagship collaboration to create a degree-granting program for students incarcerated in Connecticut, and to create pathways for students who have been released to continue their educational pursuits.
"As an institution with a nationally ranked and highly respected criminal justice college, we have a responsibility to be at the forefront of transforming the criminal justice system and extending access to higher education opportunities," said University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan. "We are privileged to be collaborating with the Yale Prison Education Initiative to create an innovative program that we believe will provide the resources and support for incarcerated students to succeed now and in the future."
The largest benefactor of the arts and humanities in the United States, The Mellon Foundation supports initiatives that strengthen the humanities, arts, higher education, and cultural heritage. The affiliation between YPEI and the University of New Haven will foster an expansion of the program for incarcerated students in Connecticut, create a pathway for these students to earn associate and bachelor's degrees, and add an innovative Fellowship program for alumni of higher education in prison programs. Together, YPEI and the University endeavor to implement visionary educational practices and to focus on providing a liberal arts education.
"As an institution with a nationally ranked and highly respected criminal justice college, we have a responsibility to be at the forefront of transforming the criminal justice system and extending access to higher education opportunities" University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan
YPEI is a signature program of Dwight Hall, Yale's Center for Public Service and Social Justice. Founded in 2016 and a member of the Bard Prison Initiative's Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, YPEI has become a national leader in the field of higher education in prison by bringing access to rigorous, for-credit Yale liberal arts courses and programming to incarcerated students in Connecticut, as well providing as a robust network of academic resources, tutors, and advisers to ensure student success. YPEI also supports recently released students as they transition to life outside of prison and fosters relationships with community organizations that focus on reentry.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, there are more than two million individuals incarcerated in the United States. There are more than a dozen prisons in Connecticut.
Michael Rossi, Ph.D., interim dean of the University of New Haven's College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as principal investigator, and S. Zelda Roland, Ph.D., founding director of the Yale Prison Education Initiative and director of the new partnership, will be co-principal investigator. "The Mellon Foundation grant will allow us to increase our ability to provide incarcerated individuals college courses leading to a degree," said Dr. Rossi.
"We are so grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for believing in our shared vision of serving incarcerated students as future citizens and leaders worthy of serious investment and support," said Dr. Roland. "Each university has a unique contribution to make to the field, and our new partnership will surely resonate among peer institutions and across the country. With the coming national restoration of Pell Grant access for incarcerated students, we hope to model best practices for a rigorous, credit-bearing, degree-granting program that can meet the potential of justice-impacted students, as well as inspire greater university participation in college-in-prison programming."