Frequently Asked Questions about the Liberal Arts in Prison Program

What is the Liberal Arts in Prison Program (LAPP)?

The Liberal Arts in Prison Program provides liberal arts education to incarcerated men and women in Iowa’s prisons and youth at the State Training School. We offer a First Year of College to men who undergo a selective admissions process at the Newton Correctional Facility.  In addition, between 50-70 on-campus students volunteer each semester.

Who teaches the classes? Do they volunteer?

Our accredited courses are taught by Grinnell College faculty. All faculty who teach courses in prison are paid and are not volunteers.

Who volunteers in the program? How many people participate?

Each semester, around 50-70 student volunteers participate in our program, many of whom volunteer for several semesters during their time at Grinnell. 

Faculty and staff tutor and teaching accredited courses for the First Year of College program. We usually offer 3 accredited classes each semester.

Each semester we usually have a special event at one of the prisons, including Orchestra and play performances.

What does the program cost?

The Liberal Arts in Prison Program has a total yearly budget of $60,000 a year. This budget covers all our expenses for both the First Year of College program and our extensive volunteer program.

How is the program funded?

Aside from staff salaries, LAPP is funded entirely by grants and private donations. Your donations keep our program running

Do students in prison get credit from Grinnell College?

Yes, students enrolled in the First Year of College program receive Grinnell College credits on a transcript from Grinnell. Incarcerated students may earn up to 60 Grinnell College credit. We currently offer the First Year of College program only at the Newton Correctional Facility. 

Do Grinnell College students receive credit for their participation?

Typically, Grinnell students volunteer without pay or college credit. However, students can design and teach their own course as a 2- or 4-credit Independent Study or as a 2-credit Plus 2 option. These opportunities must be considered well in advance, and must be approved by the dean's office. 

How does the program affect Grinnell College students, faculty, and alums?

In the spring of 2012, we conducted a survey to assess the impact of the Liberal Arts in Prison Program on students, faculty, and alums (PDF).  Among the results of this survey: nearly all participants said the program transformed how they thought about liberal arts education, and fully half of alums were currently working or volunteering in a project that related to their experience in the program. 

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