The Liberal Arts in Prison Program enrolls incarcerated students in a demanding, rich college program equivalent to a year at Grinnell College. We also host a student volunteer program that supports and supplements our accredited program. Through this work, we foster reciprocal learning that enriches lives both inside and outside the fences and affirms the power of liberal arts education to support human flourishing. Give to our program or contact us for more information.
Update Spring 2021: The Liberal Arts in Prison Program during the COVID-19 pandemic
We continue to remain connected to our students at Newton Correctional Facility (NCF) during this frightening time, both through videoconference and “Grinnell TV,” our new closed-circuit television channel at the prison.
We have offered courses for credit during spring, summer, and fall 2020, and again this spring, first via speakerphone, and then via videoconference, as well through exchange of paper materials. We have been offering one class at a time (instead of our usual 3-4 courses) because logistics are complicated. Our courses remain high-quality and include tutoring via videoconference and phone. Since March 2020, we have offered courses in anthropology, composition, and public speaking. Though the pandemic has made remote instruction our only option, we remain committed to returning to robust, in-person instruction as soon as conditions allow.
With generous help from prison staff, we began operating a closed-circuit television station at Newton Correctional Facility in November 2020. Everyone incarcerated at NCF has access to this TV station, which screens recorded lectures and speakers from Grinnell College, as well as other educational programming. We screen content every day, including when the prison goes into lockdown because of COVID-19 outbreaks. A team of Grinnell students curate content for that TV channel, in addition to our regular broadcast of instructional videos for our credit-bearing courses. We also collected submissions for Concrete Perspectives, our annual literary anthology from incarcerated writers at NCF, with plans to publish another edition this spring.
As always, we thank our program’s supporters. Donations to the program granted us the flexibility and financial security to creatively respond to these conditions. In January 2021, we were delighted to welcome Molly Campe ’96 to our team as part-time Prison Program Coordinator. Molly most recently served Grinnell College as senior associate director of alumni relations, a position she held for nearly eight years. She will work with Director of the Prison Program Emily Guenther ’07 on several projects we are excited to share with you soon. This new position was funded entirely by donations, and we are grateful to donors for helping us expand staffing to respond creatively to the pandemic and to support the program after the crisis becomes less acute.