How it works

Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), offers this course of study for prisoners in the Michigan prison system. Each year 20 students from prisons around Michigan are selected for this program. The MDOC agrees to transfer students to Handlon Correctional Facility (MTU) in Ionia, MI, where they will remain while they are Calvin students. The MDOC arranges for classroom and library space, and facilitates the students’ schedules so they can be in class and have time to study each day.

The enrolled students do not pay the cost of tuition, textbooks, or computers. These costs are covered by the Calvin Prison Initiative, which is funded through donations and grants.

As students progress through the program, they will receive a certificate, an associate’s degree, and a bachelor’s degree in Faith and Community Leadership. At each of these program milestones, student investment and GPA will be assessed to determine continued involvement in the program.

How to apply

In order to apply for the Calvin Prison Initiative, students must first be recommended by the facility where they currently reside. It is our hope that the Wardens, Chaplains, or Principals will identify and recommend prisoners who are a good fit for the program. Applications will be distributed to candidates who have been recommended by their facility and who meeting the following criteria:

  • Have a GED or high school diploma.
  • 7 years until your first eligibility for parole, as of 2/1/21. Lifers are welcomed.
  • Possess high moral character and a desire to study and serve others.
  • Meet conduct requirements set by the MDOC.

Prisoners interested in the Calvin Prison Initiative should talk to their facility's school principal.