Read Cultivating Relationships and Building Support: A Guide to College-in-Prison Program Sustainability

October 1, 2021
College-in-Prison Reentry Initiative

As the field of higher education in prison continues to grow and the return of Pell grants for incarcerated students creates more opportunities for colleges and universities to build new programs, SUNY is interested in helping higher education institutions consider what is needed to build sustainable, student centered college programs inside prisons. The return of public funding is a game changer for the field of higher education in prison and a victory for increasing incarcerated individuals’ access to higher education. However, the historically unreliable nature of public funding requires that programs think about program sustainability in a more holistic way. It was not long ago that the 1994 crime bill made incarcerated individuals ineligible to receive Pell grants and most college-in-prison programs had to shut their doors. Many incarcerated college students in the mid 1990s were left without programming or the opportunity to complete their degrees. Securing diverse funding streams to complement public funding is a helpful start to thinking about program sustainability. There is power to be harvested by having campus and institutional investment. Incorporating your college-in-prison program into the vision of your educational institution will allow your program to develop deep roots and potentially increase opportunities to obtain additional support and funding.