My amazing mother, Kelsey Kauffman, started an all-volunteer college education program in the Indiana women’s prison. So far the materials — books, etc — have been paid for out of her pocket and the pockets of the teachers, but they want to scale up, and they need our help to make it work. Can you donate now? It’s tax-deductible AND you can give your donation in a friend or family member’s name as a gift.
Read her note below for more information.
Also, if you need another reason: Aaron was obsessed with ensuring that he had as much positive impact on the world as possible. But in his more pessimistic moods, he argued that it was incredibly hard in a lot of contexts (like political advocacy) to be sure you were having any effect at all. He once told me that he looked to my mom as an example of someone who he aspired to be like — who he was sure was doing a lot of good for the world. He was right.
I am writing in the hope that you might be willing to help a woman in prison get a college education.
Indiana had one of the best prison college programs in the nation until 2011 when the state legislature eliminated all funding. College programs in all but one of the state’s 23 prisons collapsed almost overnight as colleges and universities—public and private—withdrew not only their instructors but also their books, computers, and supplies. Yet nothing is more highly correlated with NOT going back to prison than earning a college degree while there.
Soon after the legislature withdrew funding, a handful of concerned citizens approached the Department of Correction seeking permission to restart the college program at the Indiana Women’s Prison with entirely volunteer faculty and at no cost to the state. Providing a college education for women in prison is especially important as 80% of them are mothers and most retain custody of their children.
The program quickly grew from 18 students and 3 teachers in August 2012 to 70 students and 10 volunteer faculty members today. Classes are offered year-round. Many more women at the prison want to enroll. The problem is that our faculty members have not only been volunteering their time, but they have also been paying for books, photocopies, and supplies themselves.
In order to accept more students, we need help. We are appealing to churches, civic groups and concerned citizens such as you, asking any and all to sponsor a woman for all or part of a semester. Here are the details:
- $100 a semester per student is enough to cover books, photocopying, paper, pens and pencils, and other costs like obtaining high school and college transcripts, and an end-of-semester breakfast.
- Donations are tax deductible.
- Checks should be made out to “Indiana Prison College Fund” and sent either to me at 609 Ridge Ave, Greencastle, IN 46135 or directly to the Putnam County Community Foundation, 2 S. Jackson St., Greencastle, IN 46135. If you send a check directly to the Foundation, please let me know so I can keep track of donations.
- If you would like to make a donation in someone else’s name or as a present for this holiday season, we would be delighted to send a card homemade by our students and faculty to the honoree.
- Sponsorships are anonymous and cannot be designated for a specific student.
As a small way of saying thank you, our students would like donors to have a subscription to The Hill, the newsmagazine that they write for the entire prison population, expertly covering everything from the new Indiana crime code to prison events to how to make microwave meals out of prison commissary items. If you donate in someone else’s name, we’ll be happy to send them a subscription, too.
Many of our students never dreamed they would ever go to college. School has been one of their many failures in life; yet here they are, not only succeeding, but also loving it. They are more grateful for the opportunity than any college students I’ve known in 40 years of teaching. And they are amazed and heartened that complete strangers like you are cheering them on. Every donation makes a difference.