June 23, 2022—St. Louis, MO—The Washington University Prison Education Project is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2022-2023 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $12,700 will support a community reading program focusing on Circe by Madeline Miller from September 2022 – February 2023. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have received a Big Read award,” said Prison Education Project Director Kevin Windhauser. “One of the foundational beliefs of the Prison Education Project is that the study of literature and the arts must be democratically and equitably available to all, including incarcerated students. Through our Big Read grant, we are excited to offer that experience to hundreds of incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated readers throughout Missouri.”
“It is inspiring to see how NEA Big Read grantees like the Washington University Prison Education Project utilize these books as launchpads for their own programming, often creating opportunities for community conversations, new partnerships, and encouraging participants to incorporate art into their daily lives,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.
“All across America, in communities small and large, the NEA Big Read connects neighbors and inspires creativity,” said Torrie Allen, President & CEO of Arts Midwest. “We’re excited to support grantees like the Prison Education Project as they bring the pages of these wonderful books to life through inventive programming.”
Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $24 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 16 years, grantees have leveraged more than $56 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 97,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit arts.gov/neabigread.
The Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP) offers a college education to incarcerated students at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC) in Pacific, Missouri, and the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC) in Vandalia, Missouri. Established in 2014, PEP is a fully accredited degree program granting Associate in Arts and Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies degrees. To learn more about the Prison Education Project and to support our work, please visit: How You Can Help | Prison Education Project | Washington University in St. Louis (wustl.edu)
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit arts.gov to learn more.
Arts Midwest believes that creativity has the power to inspire and unite humanity. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest grows, gathers, and invests in creative organizations and communities throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.