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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards $1.5 Million Grant to Support YPEI Collaboration

Since 2018, the Yale Prison Education Initiative at Dwight Hall (YPEI) has offered for-credit Yale courses to incarcerated individuals at Connecticut’s MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. Drawing from existing Yale classes, and with the same academic standards and rigor of on-campus classes, the initiative offers a broad liberal arts curriculum, with courses ranging from “Visual Thinking” to “Introduction to Ethics” to “Readings in American Literature.”

Now YPEI, in partnership with the University of New Haven (UNH), will expand its educational offerings, giving its students the opportunity to earn college degrees for the first time.

The new partnership, which has received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will allow incarcerated students in Connecticut to earn a two-year associate’s degree from UNH by taking courses in prison classrooms taught by both Yale and UNH faculty members and graduate students.

“Prison education speaks to Yale’s mission of seeking exceptionally promising students and cultivating citizens and leaders,” said Zelda Roland ’08, ’16 Ph.D., founding director of YPEI and director of the new Yale-UNH partnership. “If we can begin to imagine a future beyond mass incarceration, empowering and educating the leaders of that future who have been directly impacted is a big part of the university’s role.”


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