Emerson Prison Initiative

The Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI) provides high-quality college courses to people incarcerated in Massachusetts. EPI’s mission is to democratize access to tertiary education for those who have been historically marginalized or otherwise unable to attend college. EPI aims to offer courses that are as similar as possible to our Boston campus, an emphasis that follows from a philosophy that education is transformative in and of itself. We aspire to equip all students, whether they are on the Boston campus or in prison, with critical thinking and communication skills in order for them to engage, critique, and transform the world around them.

Emerson Prison Initiative

What We Do

EPI provides rigorous liberal arts education to the inaugural EPI cohort of twenty inmate-students at Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Concord (MCI Concord). Early in Fall 2017, and based on the Bard Prison Initiative’s (BPI) successful admissions model, this first cohort went through a five-step admissions process: beginning with an information session, a timed essay exam that was then scored by a panel of Emerson College and BPI faculty, interviews, and ending with the admission of the top twenty applicants. EPI admission is highly competitive – only twenty out of nearly 100 applicants were selected. Within weeks, the cohort became registered as students in the freshman seminar IN154 Power and Privilege, taught by Dr. Mneesha Gellman, and which is being taught simultaneously on Emerson’s main Boston campus.

EPI plans to continue expanding course offerings at MCI Concord and will admit new cohorts of EPI students moving forward. Emerson brings its unique arts and communications focus to this program, while also creating a strong foundation from which students can decide their own future courses of study, whether at Emerson, other college-in-prison programs, or colleges and universities post-release.

What Can Your Gift Do

Though costs vary with the classes being offered, generally your donation of $20 provides supplies for a student for one semester. $50 provides books for one EPI student for one class. A donation of $100 will buy books for one student for both classes for the semester. A donation of $1,000 will equip all EPI students in a cohort will their needed textbooks for the full semester. A donation of $6,000 pays for an entire new EPI class, which will move the students much closer to gaining a college degree.