Exploration Grants

These limited-term grants are designed to help us and our partners learn more about innovations that look promising based on experience or anecdotal evidence. Exploration grants encourage innovation and outside-the-box approaches to persistent systemic challenges.

  • The 3 Ways We Fund


Optimizing Delivery Systems for Higher Education in Prison

Building Relationships and Infrastructure

We’re partnering with postsecondary education institutions and corrections departments to plan refinements for existing HEP programs and share lessons learned with the field.

Strengthening Prison Learning Programs

Strengthening prison learning programs

Practitioners of higher education in prison have long recognized a need for a centralized set of resources that could help strengthen their programs. This grant supports the launch of a national organization that will advance the field and serve as a hub for these resources.

Making the Most of State Financial Aid Funds

Aiming for Equity

We’ve partnered with the RAND Corporation to study whether state financial aid grant programs could improve student outcomes by devising a more equitable way to allocate their funds, especially for those students who file for aid late or who just miss out on eligibility.

Prison Teaching & Learning Initiative

Helping incarcerated students thrive

To address the needs of incarcerated students, many of whom have experienced trauma, the Prison University Project is incorporating trauma-informed teaching techniques and sharing best practices with practitioners nationwide.

Career & Technical Education in Prison

A path to employment

Expanding access to higher education programs in prison could help more justice-involved individuals earn industry-recognized credentials that lead to post-release job opportunities.

RAND Landscape Scan: Higher Education in Prison

Incarcerated adults who take part in higher education are 43% less likely to return to prison

*Correctional Education in the United States, RAND Corporation, 2014

We're learning about promising opportunities to put more justice-involved individuals on the pathway to graduation.

Completion Grant

Keeping at-risk near-completers on track to graduation

Helping colleges identify struggling students in high-demand majors who are within striking distance of graduation — then keep them in school to earn their degrees.

Caring Campus Initiative

Supportive Staff Encourage Student Success

When students don’t feel like they belong on campus, they are less likely to succeed. That’s why we’re supporting an initiative to build stronger connections between staff and students.

Who is Developmental Education Still Leaving Behind?

student icons with focus on one student

Postsecondary institutions have made significant gains reforming developmental education in recent years. But we believe there’s more work to be done for students who are not well-served by existing interventions. That’s why we’re funding research to identify those students and the barriers they face.

"Second Chance Pell" Planning Grant

Creating roadmaps for improvement

The Vera Institute of Justice is working with eight Second Chance Pell Pilot Program sites to identify areas for improvement and create roadmaps to positive institutional change.

Promoting Student Success in Prison Higher Education

Developing key performance indicators

By adapting key metrics from traditional colleges for higher education in prison, practitioners could build stronger programs designed to help students stay on the path to success and make the learning experience a more transformative one.

Early Indicators Grant

Identifying student success indicators

Researchers in four states are developing models to predict the likelihood of academic and labor market success based on student behaviors early in college. This tool can help colleges identify students who will benefit most from support services to persist to completion.

The Finish Line: Graduation by Design

Improving outcomes for students at risk

Helping students avoid or mitigate financial aid probation may help them stay enrolled and on track for graduation.

Wisconsin Covenant Scholars Grant

$21.5 million and counting awarded since 2011

Helping students from low-income families meet the cost of college when state grants for Wisconsin Covenant Scholars aren't enough.