Institutional News

Prison Education Initiative Awarded $40,000 from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation

Bennington College’s Prison Education Initiative (PEI) has been awarded a grant of $40,000 from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

Logo for Mother Cabrini Foundation

Now in its sixth year, PEI brings Bennington College faculty to Great Meadow Correctional Facility, a maximum-security men’s prison in Comstock, NY, to provide a quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students. 

This grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation will allow PEI to serve more students while expanding its course offerings and increasing student services and academic support. 

“We are deeply grateful to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for their confidence in PEI; their generous grant will allow us to expand our current course offerings as we expand our student body and to address the requirements of an increasingly academically advanced student body,” said Annabel Davis-Goff, Director and Co-Founder of PEI.

Grants to programs such as PEI demonstrate our continued commitment to support a wide range of organizations improving the well-being of New Yorkers,” said Alfred F. Kelly, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Visa and Chair of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation Board.

To help meet the unique needs of its students at Great Meadow while also staying true to the ideals of a Bennington education, PEI will expand its course offerings, while also strengthening its student support services by increasing advising for degree-seeking students and bolstering financial aid support services and guidance for continuing students

Since PEI’s first class in 2015, the demand for the program—which currently serves 44 students—has continually grown, and an increasing number of inmates wish to enroll in the program. 

PEI’s ultimate goal is to promote education as a lifelong pursuit, serving both those who will one day reenter society as productive members, along with those who will spend their lives in prison. Inmates serving long sentences tend to be leaders in the incarcerated community and have a strong influence over their peers. When these leaders participate in quality educational opportunities, they encourage others to pursue education as well. In addition to improving inmates’ overall quality of life, a successful educational record increases their chances of clemency or geriatric parole.

Research has shown that access to education shapes how inmate students make meaning of their worlds, cope with their sentences, and engage with others, which in turn has a positive impact on other aspects of prison life, including a reduction in violence and disruptive behavior. For PEI students, education is not a means to an end, but rather an end in itself, maximizing human potential through intellectual and spiritual development.


About the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation
The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the health and well-being of the vulnerable New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of targeted communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. The Foundation – which is named in memory of a tireless advocate for immigrants, children, and the poor – provides flexible support for new and innovative approaches that enhance health and wellness across New York State. For more information, visit