Max Kenner — Founder and Executive Director, Bard Prison Initiative

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Max Kenner is founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), which enrolls incarcerated men and women in academic programs that culminate in degrees from Bard College. A leading advocate for the restoration of college-in-prison, Kenner frequently speaks publicly on issues of education and criminal justice. He is also co-founder of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, which supports colleges and universities in establishing college-in-prison projects and is currently active twelve states.

At Bard College, Kenner serves as Vice President for Institutional Initiatives and Advisor to the President on Public Policy & College Affairs. In 2013-’14 he was a fellow-in-residence at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University and in July 2014 was appointed to serve on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York State Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration. Recent awards include The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40, the Manhattan Institute’s Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Education.

About the Bard Prison Initiative:

BPI creates the opportunity for incarcerated men and women to earn a Bard College degree while serving their sentences, currently enrolling 300 students across six correctional facilities in New York. Academic standards and workload are rigorous, based on an unusual mix of attention to developmental skills and ambitious college study. The rate of post-release employment among the program’s participants is high and recidivism is stunningly low. Through the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, BPI also supports colleges and universities across the country entering this field and is currently active in twelve states.

By challenging incarcerated men and women with a liberal education, BPI works to redefine the relationship between educational opportunity and criminal justice.

Social Media:

Facebook – Bard Prison Initiative 

Select Publications:

New York Times

Smithsonian Magazine

NPR Here & Now

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