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Laughing Gull Foundation Announces $1.9 million in Grants to Organizations Advancing Higher Education in Prisons Programs

Durham, NC - The Laughing Gull Foundation (LGF) is pleased to announce the approval  of $1,940,000 in grants awarded in 2022 to 38 organizations advancing higher education opportunities for system-involved people in the US South. LGF’s Higher Education in Prisons Program seeks to reverse the trend of mass incarceration and to affirm the humanity, capacity, and potential of currently incarcerated people. 


“Having access to high-quality, accredited college courses opens doors for everyone, yet for incarcerated people, the opportunity to pursue higher education is profoundly life-changing. After seeing how our grantee partners adapted to meet the needs of students throughout a global pandemic and reduced barriers for system-involved people in the South, we are confident in these organizations’ ability to create a more just future.” 

– Dr. LaTonya Penny, LGF Chief Executive


Through its grantmaking, Laughing Gull Foundation works to improve access to accredited college courses for incarcerated students and reduce systemic inequities, prioritizing BIPOC communities that are most impacted by incarceration. Beginning in 2023, people who are incarcerated will have an easier time affording college, thanks to a coalition of organizations who advocated for the reinstatement of Pell Grant eligibility for people in prisons. For 26 years, incarcerated students were prohibited from receiving Pell Grants because of The Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (“crime bill,” for short). Within a year of the crime bill’s passage, participation in higher education-in-prison programs decreased by 44 percent. 


“We are hopeful that reinstatement of Pell Grant access will expand quality higher education opportunities in prisons. With increased resources, our grantee partners will continue their transformative work to increase opportunity for justice–impacted people, especially Black and Brown students who have been most harmed by mass incarceration.” 

– Hilary Rau, LGF Higher Education in Prison Program Manager


LGF’s 2022 Higher Education in Prisons Fund grants were made to the following organizations: 


Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project (Alabama)

Alliance for Higher Education in Prison (National)

*Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (Asheville, NC)

Claflin University Pathways from Prison Program (Orangeburg, SC)

College & Community Fellowship (National)

*Columbia Center for Justice National Executive Council (New York, NY)

*Common Good Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)

The Education Trust (Washington, DC)

Florida Justice Center (Winter Park, FL)

*Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network (National) 

GA Coalition of Higher Education in Prison (Atlanta, GA)

GA State University Prison Education Project (Atlanta, GA)

Jamii Sisterhood (Windsor, CT)

Miami-Dade College - Institution for Educational Empowerment (Miami, FL)

Mississippi Humanities Council (Jackson, MS)

*Morehouse College - Beyond the Bars South Conference (Atlanta, GA)

NC Prison Education Collaborative (Asheville, NC)

Operation Restoration (New Orleans, LA)

Piedmont VA Community College HEP Program (Charlottesville, VA)

Prison-to-College Pipeline Program at University of Mississippi (Oxford, MS)

Rappahannock Community College Correctional Ed. Program (Warsaw, VA)

REAL LIFE (Richmond, VA)

Resilience Education (Richmond, VA)

Rise Up Conference (National) 

Shaw University Reducing Recidivism through Higher Education (Raleigh, NC)

Southern Higher Education in Prison Collective (Southern Regional)

Southside VA Community College Campus Within Walls (Alberta, VA)

Stetson University Community Education Project (Deland, FL)

Tennessee Higher Education Initiative (Nashville, TN)

Tennessee Prison College Coalition (Nashville, TN)

The Chillon Project at Life University (Atlanta, GA)

UCF Florida Prison Education Project (Orlando, FL)

University of North Alabama-Limestone Prison Programming Initiative (Florence, AL)

UNC Asheville Prison Education Program (Asheville, NC)

VA Foundation for Community College Education (Richmond, VA) 

Vera Institute of Justice (National)

Warren Wilson College Inside Out Program (Asheville, NC)

West Virginia University Higher Education in Prison Initiative (Morgantown, WV)


* denotes new grantees

For more information on LGF's Higher Education in Prisons Program strategies, approaches, priorities, and impact, please click below.

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