Higher Education in Prison:

In 2015, Laughing Gull Foundation launched its higher education in prison program. This program aims to increase access to credit-bearing college courses for incarcerated students. Our primary geographic focus is the U.S. South. We are not currently accepting applications for this program.

Laughing Gull Foundation Awards Nearly $1.7 Million in Grants to Organizations Supporting Higher Education in Prison in 2019.. Read more

Current Grantees

The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project (APAEP) is a program at Auburn University dedicated to bringing educational opportunities to people incarcerated in Alabama prisons. The program provides access to sustained and quality educational experiences in the arts, humanities, hard sciences, and human sciences. LGF has supported APAEP since 2015. In 2018, LGF awarded APAEP a three-year grant to support program operations.

The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison's (AHEP) mission is to support the expansion of quality higher education in prison, empower students in prison and after release, and shape public discussion about education and incarceration.  LGF has supported AHEP since its inception in 2017. In 2018, LGF awarded AHEP a three-year grant for general operating support.

College & Community Fellowship (CCF) enables women with criminal convictions to earn college degrees so that they, their families, and their communities can thrive. CCF advocates for equity and opportunity for the communities it serves.  LGF has supported CCF since 2015. In 2018, LGF awarded CCF a two-year grant to support  Second Chance Pell education and Ban the Box work.

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Exchange for Change teaches writing in prisons and runs letter exchanges between incarcerated students and writers studying on the outside. By preparing prisoners for their reentry into the outside community and preparing that community for their return, Exchange for Change provides vision and understanding on both sides of the fence. LGF has supported Exchange for Change since 2018. In 2019, LGF awarded Exchange for Change a one-year project grant.


Georgia State University Prison Education Project (GSUPEP) works to bring higher education into prisons and support reentry into society to help reduce recidivism. The project promotes lifelong learning that strengthens human character, increases understanding of life experiences, and motivates students to engage in productive citizenship. In 2018, LGF awarded GSUPEP a three-year grant to support program operations.

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Guilford College Wiser Justice Program (GCWJ) seeks to fulfill a mission of justice one day at a time through offering a liberal arts education to incarcerated individuals in correctional facilities in North Carolina. The Wiser Justice Program mirrors Guilford’s longstanding mission to provide a transformative, practical, and excellent liberal arts education that produces critical thinkers in an inclusive, diverse environment, guided by Quaker testimonies of community, equality, integrity, peace, and simplicity, and emphasizing the creative problem-solving skills, experience, enthusiasm and international perspectives necessary to promote positive change in the world. In 2018, LGF awarded GCWJ a three-year grant to support program operations.

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The Institute for Educational Empowerment (IEE) at Miami Dade College brings high-quality, academically sound education to an underserved population that resides in correctional institutions in South Florida. The vision of IEE is to empower students to acquire the skills to surpass their circumstances and make the most of their second chance through participation in postsecondary education. In 2019, LGF awarded a one-year project planning grant.

Rappahannock Community College Haynesville Correctional Center Educational Program (RCC HCCEP) was launched in 2008. Students in the program can earn an Associate in Arts and Sciences or an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management. Students are assigned an academic advisor who meets with them at least once during the semester, or more frequently as needed, to monitor their progress. The program is built around a cohort model where students take classes and study together. LGF has supported RCC HCCEP since 2015. In 2018, LGF awarded RCC HCCEP a two-year grant to support program operations.

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Reforming Arts  (RA) supports people who are under carceral control in Georgia through arts, education, and reentry services. RA's theatre infused higher education in prison and reentry programs foster the development of creative critical thinking and encourage students to explore creative solution and build livable lives. LGF has supported RA since 2018. In 2019, LGF awarded Reforming Arts a one-year project planning grant.

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Southside Virginia Community College's Campus Within Walls (SVCC CWW) launched in 2009 at Lunenburg Correctional Center in Victoria, VA. The program offers an Associate’s degree in general studies and a certificate in information systems technology. All CWW participants live together in a dorm that is exclusive to the men in the program, along with teaching assistants who have earned their degree and have taken courses on pedagogy and classroom leadership. LGF has supported CWW since 2015. In 2018, a LGF awarded CWW a two-year grant to support program operations.



Stetson University Community Education Project (CEP) is a multi-disciplinary, higher education-in-prison program at Stetson University. CEP is committed to offering quality liberal arts education to students incarcerated at Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach, Florida, a maximum-security men’s prison. Since its founding in 2015, the CEP mission has included expanding access to higher education in prisons; providing incarcerated students with meaningful opportunities for personal growth and greater sense of self-worth through rigorous engagement with a liberal arts curriculum; and fostering positive impacts on incarcerated people, our university, and the communities from which the men come. In 2018, LGF awarded CEP a three-year grant to support program operations.


The mission of the Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative (THEI) is to disrupt systems of harm and create opportunities for autonomy and success by providing college access to people inside Tennessee prisons, preparing students for skillful re-entry, and reducing barriers to continued education and achievement. LGF has supported THEI since 2015. In 2018, LGF awarded a three-year grant for general operating support. In 2019, LGF awarded THEI a one-year grant to support the creation of the Tennessee Prison College Coalition.


The Florida Prison Education Project (FPEP) provides educational opportunities to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in Florida, researched the societal benefits of prison education and integrates the study of justice into the University of Central Florida curriculum. In 2019, LGF awarded a one-year planning grant to FPEP.

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The Prison-to-College Pipeline Program (PTCPP), a university-community engagement initiative, promotes higher education in prison in response to high rates of incarceration and the ongoing need for increased access to educational opportunities in Mississippi. The program unites university faculty and administration across disciplines and area institutions in the ethical-intellectual endeavor of teaching at the postsecondary level in the state prison system. The PTCPP helps students who are imprisoned in the state of Mississippi who have attained a GED (or possess a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma) to pursue and attain college credit and college degrees. In 2019, LGF Awarded the PTCPP a three-year grant for program operations.


The UNC-Asheville Prison Education Program's (UNCA-PEP) goal is to create an academic community of incarcerated students, educators, and formerly incarcerated individuals through the founding of a comprehensive prison education program. UNCA PEP wants to provide sustained pathways to quality post-secondary education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals and, in so doing, reduce recidivism as well as improve the welfare of individuals released from correctional facilities in western North Carolina. In 2018, LGF awarded UNCA-PEP a three-year grant to support program operations.

UNC-Chapel Hill's Friday Center for Continuing Education Correctional Education Program (UNCCH CEP) was started in 1974. It provides an assortment of instructor‐led credit bearing college courses in 10 prisons across North Carolina. The program also makes self‐paced, correspondence courses available to students at all 61 prisons in North Carolina. Classes are taught by dozens of faculty hailing from 10 different UNC System Institutions. LGF has supported the Correctional Education Program since 2015. In 2019, LGF awarded UNCCH-CEP a one-year project grant.


The Research Collaborative on Higher Education in Prison at the University of Utah is part of the University of Utah Prison Education Project, an evidence-based approach to expand quality and equity in the field of higher education in prison. The Collaborative seeks to transform the landscape of higher education in prison by working in collaboration with partners across the country to generate rigorous, meaningful, accessible, and timely research. In 2018, LGF awarded the Collaborative a two-year project grant.


The mission of the Vera Institute of Justice is to build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. Vera works in partnership with local, state, and national government officials to create change from within. Vera studies problems that impede human dignity and justice and pilots solutions that are at once transformative and achievable. Vera engages diverse communities in informed debate. Vera harnesses the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice. In 2018, LGF awarded Vera a two-year grant to support the Unlocking Potential Campaign.


The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) works to broaden educational access, support student success, and provide innovative solutions to workforce needs. The mission is “providing access to education to all Virginians,” with a focus on expanding access and programs for underserved populations. LGF has supported the higher education in prison consortium since 2018. In 2019, LGF awarded VFCCE a one-year grant to support the Virginia Higher Education for Incarcerated Students Consortium.

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The Warren Wilson Inside Out Program (WWIO) offers credit-bearing liberal arts college courses with the goal of providing reflective space and mentorship for students incarcerated at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women. We uphold a liberal arts curriculum as central to reflecting deeply about one’s personal story, inspiring vision for one’s life, cultivating the art of persuasion, and developing practical writing, speaking, and project management skills. We envision that courses taken through Warren Wilson Inside Out will further the process of attaining associate’s and bachelor’s college degrees primarily, but not exclusively, in human services and social work. The program offers students the opportunity to study alongside non-incarcerated students from the Warren Wilson campus, deepening the experience of Warren Wilson’s distinctive curriculum.   LGF has supported WWIO since 2016. In 2019, LGF awarded WWIO a two-year grant to support program operations.

Committed to Justice. Rooted in the South.

Laughing Gull Foundation • info@laughinggull.org