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    Morehouse Higher Education in Prisons Program Gets $1.6 Million Federal Investment

    April 4, 2024

    Morehouse College has received a $1.6 million federal investment in the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership’s (AYCGL) Higher Education in Prisons Program. Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), an Atlanta Democrat and member of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, made the announcement Thursday, April 4, on campus during 404 Day, a celebration of all things Atlanta.

    The $1,636,000 is from federal Community Project Funds. The investment will be used to expand the reach of Morehouse’s Higher Education in Prisons Program. It will fund more classes for incarcerated students and provide greater opportunities for engagement with students and faculty at Morehouse College.


    Williams, who has been an outspoken advocate for social justice throughout her political and professional career, was joined for the announcement by President of Morehouse College David A. Thomas, Ph.D., and a leadership team from the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership at Morehouse College. Morehouse, which educates more than 2,300 students annually, is the nation’s only historically Black liberal arts institution dedicated to the education and development of men. As the national epicenter for thought leadership on human rights and equity, Morehouse is committed to social justice and to helping the nation address the challenges caused by institutional racism, income and health care disparities, lack of access to capital, detrimental public policy, and the need for high-quality education. 

    “My focus in Congress is uplifting marginalized communities, and few communities need this support more than incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals,” Williams said. “Historically, we haven’t invested in the futures of incarcerated individuals, and this helps no one. Our prison population—overwhelmingly and disproportionately—is comprised of Black men. It continues to grow, and the recidivism rates are sky high.” 

    To address this problem, the Higher Education in Prisons Program at Morehouse has been working for several years to transform the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women in Georgia prisons. Among other things, the federal investment will provide more support to Morehouse faculty members—Prison Education Faculty Teaching Affiliates— who are part of the program, as well as student ambassadors who assist with such work as teaching humanities courses and offering college-preparatory seminars to prison participants. 

    “Morehouse has more moral authority to speak to the issues affecting Black men than any other place on the planet. Our hope with the work that we are doing is that in some way those men getting exposure to the educational resources, pedagogy, and experiences that we know how to provide will increase their human capital,” President Thomas said. “I think that having men who are returning citizens being able to say that they are exposed to Morehouse is sort of the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for Black Male Excellence. It may increase the likelihood that someone will give them a second chance so that they can build viable lives after they leave.”

    Over four years, the Higher Education in Prisons Program has transformed the lives of more than 180 incarcerated students at Metro Reentry in Dekalb County, Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth County, and the Downtown Reentry Program in Fulton County.  With this historic investment, the program will grow to serve approximately 200 incarcerated students a year, increase the number of classes offered from two to eight, and strengthen the Prison Education Ambassadors Program so Morehouse College students can conduct research and provide peer mentoring to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.

    Morehouse Vice Provost Jann Adams, Lead Director of the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, thanked Congresswoman Williams for the $1.6 million investment. “The award will have a transformative impact on the educational opportunities of incarcerated students in Georgia and will empower us to strengthen the Higher Education in Prisons Program at Morehouse,” Adams said. “This will increase the number of courses we offer, the number of students we impact, and will allow us to create a pipeline for a degree.”

    Kipton E. Jensen, a Morehouse philosophy professor and leader in the creation of the Higher Education in Prisons Program, thanked President Thomas for his early and ongoing support of the prison program and then referenced an iconic quote from Howard Thurman 20th-century author, educator, and 1923 graduate of Morehouse College: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

    Said Jensen: “I’ve come alive in the last five years (since the prison program’s inception). I’ve seen students and faculty come alive, and, primarily, I’ve seen men inside come alive.”

    President Thomas gratefully accepted an oversized, ceremonial check from Williams, calling the prisons program “an initiative that is very significant for our community, as well as Morehouse.”

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