College Guild was founded in 2001 by two people who had each been closely and intensively involved with prisoners and prison issues. Our mission is based on the premise that when prisoners are given the opportunity and encouragement to pursue ongoing learning, it benefits both the prisoners and their communities. Prisoners who have participated in educational programs have a 50% reduced chance of returning to prison.
College Guild courses are designed to be thought-provoking and fun, to encourage objectivity and creativity, and to provide an opportunity to spend time constructively. The courses are developed and administered by volunteer teachers who qualify by having an interest or expertise in anything they would like to share with prisoner-students. College Guild’s non-accredited status and non-traditional curricula allow exploration into any subject area and give us the freedom to provide feedback that encourages as much as instructs.
What is the College Guild model? How are we organized? What are the key principles we follow to support our mission?
- We are free to prisoners, with the one exception that they pay for their outgoing stamps. Prisoner-students can work on units anywhere and anytime – all they need is a pencil, paper, and time, and sometimes this is all they have.
- We are non-accredited for a purpose; we value the freedom this allows us to serve vast populations of prisoners who are otherwise excluded from any educational opportunities.
- Our volunteer teachers and readers strive for courses that are engaging, non-threatening, and thought provoking.
- We are professional. We maintain high standards in the quality of our courses, timely responses, and respect for interpersonal boundaries.
- We are anonymous and secure. By assuring anonymity, we protect our volunteers as well as the organization and the service it provides, and we avoid the need for and risks associated with assessing/judging individual prisoners.
- We insist on respect and appropriate boundaries between students and volunteers. For example, both students and volunteers are expected to be respectful and appropriate in their treatment of racial, sexual, religious, political, and other personal issues.
- We are not affiliated with any religious or political group. We do not espouse any particular belief or ideology except dignity and respect.
- We are open to all prisoners regardless of sex, race, religion, prison, crime or sentence.
- We maintain a central office, and all correspondence between the student and College Guild goes through this office.
The College Guild volunteer can contribute anything from a few hours a month to working full time. Most work from home. They do not need to have a particular expertise, and they can live anywhere in the USA. Click here to learn more about becoming a volunteer and here to read about what working for CG has meant to our volunteers.
We are largely funded by private donations. Please click here to learn more about how you can support CG.