NEA awards grant to Alabama Prison Arts + Education program at Auburn University

AUBURN – The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded one of its two national Chairman’s Extraordinary Action Awards to Auburn University’s Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. The $12,000 award will support a pilot project to assist the NEA in developing their Big Read program for correctional facilities.

“The Big Read is designed to restore reading to the center of American culture by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities,” said Kyes Stevens, founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. “For this project, APAEP will work with NEA personnel to enhance the program for the prison setting.”

Since 2002, the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project has offered classes in the arts and humanities to incarcerated people in Alabama through the Department of Psychology in Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to award one of the pilot grants to conduct The Big Read in correctional facilities to the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project,” said Molly Thomas-Hicks, Literature Specialist for The Big Read at the NEA. “In each 14-week program, participants will be introduced to three works of great American literature using curriculum and educational material developed especially for The Big Read. We hope the pilot will become a model for similar Big Read programs in correctional facilities across the country.”

Stevens described the grant as a great testament to the positive programming efforts of all APAEP teachers and students, the Alabama Department of Corrections and Auburn University for partnering to promote positive educational experiences for this community.

In addition to APAEP’s being selected as a host site, the Alabama Writers’ Forum, a partnership program of the Alabama State Council on the Arts and partner program to APAEP, was selected to participate in the pilot Big Read project with its established programs for juvenile offenders within the Alabama Department of Youth Services School District. With the support of ASCA, the Alabama Writers’ Forum and the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project have become nationally recognized programs working to offer meaningful educational opportunities to juveniles and adults incarcerated in Alabama.

For more information about the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, go to www.auburn.edu/apaep. For more information about The Big Read, go to http://www.neabigread.org/. For more information about the Alabama Writers’ Forum, go to http://www.writersforum.org/.

Contact: Kyes Stevens, (334) 844-8946 (stevemk@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)