Mellon Foundation to Fund Operation Restoration Prison Education Initiatives

NEW YORK — The Mellon Foundation has announced over $5 million in grantmaking to seven colleges, universities and other organizations as part of its  commitment to expanding opportunities and increasing resources for higher education in carceral environments. These new grants bring Mellon’s total funding in higher education in prisons to more than $60 million since 2015.

Among the seven grantees is New Orleans-based Operation Restoration, which provides support to women and girls impacted by incarceration to recognize their full potential, restore their lives and discover new possibilities including the value of higher education.  The nonprofit will receive $500,000.

“Promoting liberal arts higher education in carceral settings is a crucial element of the Higher Learning program’s strategy for enhancing equitable access to advanced humanities thought and knowledge,” said Phillip Brian Harper, program director for Higher Learning at the Mellon Foundation. “Mellon is firmly committed to the idea that everyone must benefit from the liberatory power of the humanities, and our evolving portfolio of support for the education of incarcerated individuals epitomizes that commitment.”

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“We are excited to receive this grant from the Mellon Foundation. Many of our programs center on education as a first step to helping our clients unlock their potential,” says Operation Restoration Founder and President Syrita Steib. “More than 40% of incarcerated persons do not have a high school diploma. Despite a 30% recidivism rate for women within five years of release, data shows that 95% of formerly incarcerated persons who seek education stay out of prison.”

The Mellon Grant will support the expansion of Operation Restoration and the Tulane School of Professional Advancement College in Prison Program for women incarcerated at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women and establish post-release leadership development opportunities.

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