Welcome to the Prison Education Foundation. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt 509(a)(1) public charity dedicated to providing incarcerated men and women with the opportunity to change their lives through higher education.
Although as a public charity donations may be accepted from any source, we anticipate that our primary funding will come from various 501(c)(3) private foundations which are classified by the IRS as "nonoperating" foundations. Nonoperating private foundations do not operate their own charitable purpose programs, but rather, they provide grants to other 501(c)(3) charitable organizations that do.
Few people realize that today’s prison system provides almost no educational opportunities, other than assistance in obtaining a General Education Development (GED) certificate.
In 1995, with the passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill, Pell Grants and federal student loans were made unavailable to incarcerated persons. Because of this, two situations have occurred. First, there is little access to any type of financial aid to pay for post-secondary tuition. Second, most prison education departments have stopped providing assistance and guidance to inmates trying to navigate their way through the post-secondary educational opportunities available to prisoners who do not have access to the internet for online programs. Today, their primary efforts are directed toward the 54% of the prison population that do not have their high school diploma or GED certificate.
So for the other 46%, most of which cannot afford to pay for post-secondary tuition, their years of incarceration become wasted. These are young dads and moms who in a few years will be back with their children; and will struggle to provide for and hold their families together.
Earning a college degree from a fully accredited college or university could transform the life of the individual and his or her family. Earning a college degree can turn “wasted” years into “invested” years.
We know that the intellectually rigorous process of education changes a person. An educated person thinks, reasons and acts differently. The mind of an individual is different after it has gone through the rigors of post-secondary study. Therefore, the person is different.
Quite simply, we believe that educational opportunities should not be denied to 46% of today’s ever-increasing prison population. That number represents too many lives and too many families to ignore.