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Bard Prison Initiative Receives Grant from the Onassis Foundation USA

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) has received an $80,000 grant from the Onassis Foundation USA to establish the Onassis Foundation USA–BPI Humanities and Classics Collaboration, which promotes the study of humanities and Greek culture and the expansion of access to education for marginalized and disadvantaged students. Through this funding, BPI will support courses and lectures related to Greek culture, humanities, arts, and politics within its six in-prison campuses and two microcollege locations outside prison. The grant will also support two courses within the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, through which BPI partners can expand and sustain college-in-prison nationally.

“The collaboration with BPI marks an important shift for the Onassis Foundation USA toward developing partnerships with organizations that do good work at the intersection of humanities education and social justice. Access to education for all, regardless of life circumstances, is a key to individual improvement and the development of our communities, and I am pleased to work together with BPI to bolster its academic curriculum in the humanities and classics,” says Young Richard Kim, Director of Educational Programs and Assistant Executive Director of the Onassis Foundation USA.

“This grant from the Onassis Foundation USA will enable us to expand and enhance a core area of BPI’s liberal arts curriculum. Even more significantly, it is a demonstration of support for our commitment and the commitment of our national partners to high-quality tuition-free college education,” says Megan Callaghan, Director of Academics and Administration, BPI.

About the Onassis Foundation
The Onassis Foundation has historically supported Greek society through the pillars of Education, Culture, and Health. It was established in December 1975 in accordance with Aristotle Onassis’ last wish to honor the memory of his son, Alexander. Half of Aristotle Onassis’ fortune was the initial funding for the Foundation. Since then, all the programs and initiatives of the Foundation have been financed by its successful business activity. The Onassis Foundation USA, an affiliate of the parent Foundation, promotes cultural relations through two major initiatives, one cultural for the general public through its Onassis Cultural Center New York, and the other educational for scholars and students in partnership with academic institutions through the Onassis Humanities Impact Program. For more information, visit

About the Bard Prison Initiative
In 1999, in response to the decimation of college-in-prison nationally, the Bard Prison Initiative was founded by undergraduates at Bard College. After gaining access to the New York State prison system and securing limited funding, Bard College launched BPI as a pilot program with 16 students in 2001. Since then, the program has grown annually and dramatically. Its first associate degrees were issued in 2005 and the first bachelor’s degrees in 2008. Today, the BPI college is spread across six interconnected prisons in New York State. It enrolls more than 300 students and organizes a host of extracurricular activities essential to the breadth of college life and inquiry. Since 2001, BPI has issued roughly 50,000 credits and 450 degrees; it offers more than 165 courses per academic year and engages an extraordinary range of college faculty. Extrapolating from the successful establishment of the college, BPI has expanded in multiple directions. First, it is the home of a national Consortium that cultivates, supports, and establishes college-in-prison programs in partnership with colleges and universities across the country. Second, its office of Reentry & Alumni Affairs works with formerly incarcerated Bard students as they pursue robust civic and professional lives after release. Most recently, BPI established the Bard Microcollege to bring full-scholarship, academically rigorous liberal arts college to isolated communities outside of prison. In all its work, BPI builds alliances to rethink access, reduce costs, and redress inequities in higher education. For more information, visit

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This event was last updated on 08-30-2018