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, but you may email a one-page introduction to introductions@laughinggull.org to share information about your work.

Laughing Gull Foundation Announces over $1.85 million in Grantmaking... Read more

Current Grantees

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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 (which was extended to 2021).

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 2021, LGF awarded AHEP a three-year grant.

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Claflin’s Pathways from Prison Program embodies a number of Claflin's guiding principles, most importantly our commitment to valuing people. As South Carolina's first Historically Black College/University (HBCU), Claflin is committed to providing all people with a safe, wholesome, and healthy environment that fosters mutual respect, diversity, and inclusion. Our Pathways from Prison Program is our commitment to helping currently incarcerated individuals throughout South Carolina earn baccalaureate and/or certificate programs. LGF has supported this program since 2020. In 2021, LGF awarded the Pathways from Prison Program a two-year grant.


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 2020, LGF awarded CCF a two-year grant to support education related to Pell restoration and skill-building among directly impacted advocates.

The Education Trust is a national nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families. Through our research and advocacy, Ed Trust supports efforts that expand excellence and equity in education from preschool through college, increase college access and completion particularly for historically underserved students, engage diverse communities dedicated to education equity, and increase political and public will to act on equity issues. In 2020, LGF awarded The Education Trust a two-year grant to support the Justice-Impacted Policy Fellows Program.


Florida Justice Center (FLJC) is a legal aid and reentry organization that is at the forefront of an emerging model of holistic legal services. By combining quality legal representation with connections to social and mental health services, FLJC is able to treat the whole person and address the issues that brought about their involvement in the justice system. As the first and only legal aid organization in Florida authorized to provide criminal legal services, FLJC is uniquely situated to create meaningful change on individual and systemic levels. In 2021, LGF awarded FLJC a two-year grant to strengthen their supports for returning citizens seeking higher education.

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The Florida Prison Education Project (FPEP) provides educational opportunities to incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated people in Florida, researches the societal benefits of prison education and integrates the study of justice into the University of Central Florida curriculum. LGF has supported FPEP since 2019. In 2021, LGF awarded FPEP a two-year grant.


The Georgia Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (GACHEP) builds high-quality educational pathways, from pre-college coursework to accredited degree completion, for people who are in prison and people who have left prison in Georgia. In 2021, LGF awarded GACHEP a two-year 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 (which was extended to 2021).

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Guilford College Wiser Justice Program 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. LGF has supported Wiser Justice since 2018. In 2021, LGF awarded Wiser Justice a two-year grant.

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Jamii Sisterhood's Project Freedom. The Jamii Sisterhood seeks to create a safe and innovative space for Black women in higher education in prison through expert professional development and community building. In 2021, Jamii Sisterhood launched Project Freedom, which seeks to increase the presence of Black and LatinX instructors inside correctional facility classrooms as well as help HBCUs understand how they are uniquely suited, from an historic and contemporary perspective, to provide educational services and, in fact, lead the field through research, practice and service. LGF has supported Project Freedom since 2020. In 2021, LGF awarded Jamii Sisterhood a two-year grant for Project Freedom.

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. LGF has supported the IEE since 2019. In 2020, LGF awarded a two-year grant.

The Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC) creates opportunities for Mississippians to learn about themselves and the larger world and enriches communities through civil conversations about our history and culture. The MHC is starting the Mississippi Prison Education Consortium that will bring together existing higher education in prison programs across the state and centralize teacher training, enrollment support, evaluation and oversight. In 2021, LGF awarded MHC a two-year grant for the Mississippi Prison Education Consortium.

The NC Prison Education Collaborative (NCPEC) provides a forum for postsecondary higher education institutions that offer curriculum courses and who are in partnership with North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) to collaborate, share resources, and discuss best practices for higher education programming in North Carolina prisons. In 2021, LGF awarded the NC Prison Education Collaborative a one-year grant.

Piedmont Virginia Community College's Higher Education in Prison Program (PVCC) offers the Associate of Science degree in General Studies to incarcerated students at three correctional centers in Virginia.  The program was established in 2006 and was selected as a Second Chance Pell Experiment site in 2019.  In 2021, LGF awarded PVCC's Higher Education in Prison Program a two-year 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 2020, LGF awarded RCC HCCEP a two-year grant.

REAL LIFE serves individuals who have been impacted by incarceration, homelessness, or substance use disorder by giving them an opportunity to overcome their personal and community barriers that hinder their pathway to a Thriving Life. In 2021, LGF awarded REAL LIFE a one-year grant to support individuals to access higher education.

Resilience Education stops cycles of incarceration by improving employment outcomes and reentry success through high-quality business education. Resilience partners with business schools, including Darden and Columbia, bringing MBA students to deliver Socratic method instruction through dynamic case discussions, creating a dual learning experience for all students. In 2021, LGF awarded Resilience Education a three-year grant to support the Resilient Professional Community, a post-release networking and career development platform to reunite alumni to accelerate reentry success.

Shaw University's Reducing Recidivism through Higher Education Program (RRHE) equips justice involved persons with the skills and education to create a sustainable source of income upon release from prison and assist with reentry into society while reducing the risk factors that contribute to recidivism. LGF has supported Shaw's RRHE Program since 2019. In 2021, LGF awarded the Reducing Recidivism through Higher Education Program a one-year grant.

The Southern Higher Education in Prison Collective works to advance educational opportunities for people who are incarcerated. The Collective is committed to making direct change to systems in the South that negatively impact incarcerated students and their families and communities. LGF has supported the Collective since 2017. In 2021, LGF awarded the Collective a two-year grant.

Southside Virginia Community College's Campus Within Walls (SVCC CWW) launched in 2009. The program offers an Associate’s degree in general studies and a certificate in information systems technology. All Campus Within Walls 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 Campus Within Walls since 2015. In 2020, LGF awarded Campus Within Walls a two-year grant.

Stetson University Community Education Project (CEP) is a multi-disciplinary, higher education-in-prison program at Stetson University. The Community Education Project  offers quality liberal arts education to students incarcerated at Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach, Florida. LGF has supported the Community Education Project since 2018. In 2021, LGF awarded the Community Education Project a three-year grant.

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 THEI a three-year grant (which was extended to 2021).

Tennessee Prison College Coalition (TPCC), a project of the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative (THEI),  is a space for higher education partners, corrections partners, re-entry partners and community partners to share best practices, identify programming challenges, create standard operating policies and procedures, and discuss an agenda of next steps for implementation of prison higher education across the state. In 2019, LGF awarded THEI a one-year grant to support the creation of the Tennessee Prison College Coalition (which was extended to 2021).

The University of Mississippi's 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 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.

University of North Alabama-Limestone Prison Programming Initiative's (UNA) mission is restoring lives through healing, empowerment, accountability, education, and inclusion. The heart of their programming is the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which brings incarcerated and university students together in the same classroom. This year, they are developing a credit-bearing certificate program in Restorative Justice that builds on their previous course offerings. LGF has supported UNA-Limestone since 2020. In 2021, LGF awarded UNA-Limestone Prison Programming Initiative a one-year grant.

University of North Carolina-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.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Friday Center for Continuing Education Correctional Education Program 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 the Correctional Education Program a one-year grant (which was extended to 2021).

The mission of the Vera Institute of Justice is to end the overcriminalization and mass incarceration of people of color, immigrants, and people experiencing poverty. LGF has supported Vera’s Unlocking Potential work since 2018. In 2020, LGF awarded Vera a two-year grant.

The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) works to broaden educational access, support student success, and provide innovative solutions to workforce needs. The VFCCE’s work includes the Virginia Higher Education for Incarcerated Students Consortium with a focus on providing educational access to education to incarcerated students. LGF has supported the Consortium since 2018. In 2020, LGF awarded VFCCE a one-year grant to support the Virginia Higher Education for Incarcerated Students Consortium (which was extended to 2021).

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. LGF has supported Warren Wilson’s Inside Out Program since 2016. In 2019, LGF awarded Warren Wilson’s Inside Out Program a two-year grant.

The West Virginia University Higher Education in Prison Initiative promotes educational access and equity in the Appalachian region. The Initiative offers for-credit college courses to incarcerated students; collaborates with imprisoned writers to showcase their writing and artwork; and provides support to formerly incarcerated students at West Virginia University. In 2021, LGF awarded the Initiative a three-year grant.