For DonorsFor Applicants

Students Impacted by Incarceration Scholarship

2 winners, $1,000 each
Next Application Deadline
May 30, 2024
Next Winners Announced
Jun 30, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school or undergraduate
Affected by incarceration

Incarceration impacts both those incarcerated as well as their families.

It can be challenging to seek an education if you have past personal experience with, or have a family member directly impacted by incarceration.It is important to show students whose lives have been impacted by incarceration that it doesn't define them or hinder their chances of success.

The Students Impacted by Incarceration Scholarship will support a student who has been incarcerated themselves or had a family member who has been incarcerated. 

High school and undergraduate students are eligible to apply if they have been impacted by incarceration. To apply, write about how incarceration has impacted your life, what these experiences have taught you, and how has shaped your academic and career aspirations.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published February 29, 2024
Essay Topic

How has incarceration impacted your life, what have you learned from that experience,  and how has it had an impact on the academic & career ambitions you have?

300–500 words

Winners and Finalists

June 2023

Hyde Cochran
Owen Valentine
Analyssa Nelson
Christopher-Krew Masterson
Thomas Frazier
Michael Alston
Haydn Marcella
Rubi Dillard
Michael Bennie
Aeva Williams
Sienna Dries
Giselle Lopez
Sebastian Vaca
Julia Gower
Vasilis Stavropoulos
Cumela Robins
Sofia King
Mikayla Simms
Carlyssa Hordge
Dvante Baham
Nevaeh Brown
julie abboud
Beverly Jacob
Naudia Jacobs
Jacqueline Hull
Gianna Martinez
Leslie Nunez
Karla Recinos
Rylee Estes
Ethan Curtis
Madyson Eckstine
Empress Louree
Olivia Dorst
Luis Fierro
Ma’Hali Brown
Nicole Bluhm
Deidra Trotter
Abel Thomas
Kristal Lopez
luciana Macli
Kana Duncan
Gabriella Marquez
Sha'Dyamond Bond
Izach Littlefield
Katelyn Nassar
Arianna Mellinger
Alex Rivera Westberg
Nyana Tripp
Vincenza Kaufman
Emily Mendoza
Tomarion King
Constance Blackman
denny hughes
Ava Harvey
Rikell Williams
Nakera Bell
Abbigale Osburn
Skylar Huie
Jadanny Amezola
Vanessa Studans
Candace Gray
Chris Crowder
LaToya Vaughn
Edith Piceno
Simon Hall
Rebecca Lowe
Rachel Langston
Tiffany Sambhu
callie yohey
Tiana Williams-Amiekumo
Joseph Ramos
Angela Luong
Dana Saville
Anthony Longmire
Keith Hudson
Lailah Johnson
Madison Rhoton
Madison Giannakas
leonny lora perez
Cameron Bryant
Devin Morgan

Winning Applications

Calvin Berndt
University of Wisconsin-Green BayGREEN BAY, WI
I started my college career struggling to find direction. Uncertain what to pursue academically, and how to sustain myself financially, I erroneously started to sell marijuana. What started small accrued to become a large enterprise. I continued in this direction for almost two years. Things changed at the end of 2015. I started to find my place in the world, under the guidance of amazing professors and mentors. It was at this point where I looked to my long term goals and future. I realized that my illegal activities were only going to lead me to a life in prison. I terminated all my connections to the marijuana industry and went 100% in my academic studies, research, and tutoring. Two years later, I was about to be accepted into a neuroscience PhD program at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. My past haunted me, casting a shadow over me. Right when the future seemed the brightest, all that I had worked so hard for was taken from me. In 2017, I was arrested for conspiracy to deliver THC >10,000 grams. While I was living a better life, my past associates were not. One by one, they were caught selling, and in turn told their story of how the enterprise began. Due to my arrest, I was expelled from the University of Wisconsin school system for non-academic misconduct. I was on my way to graduating with a 3.8 GPA in biochemistry. Now I couldn't even stop onto the grounds of the university, and facing prison time. For two years I fought my criminal case, but ultimately settled on a plea deal of a 10 year sentence (5 years confinement, 5 years extended supervision). April 19, 2024, I was released from my five year incarceration. Although life in prison can be hard, I capitalized on any opportunity that arose. I completed 500 hours of community service by rehabilitating abused dogs through the Fox Valley Humane Society. In addition, I assisted 100+ inmates with formulating resumes, to assist with their re-entry into society. I gained valuable hands-on skills working as a maintenance mechanic and obtained a certificate in masonry/bricklaying. Every second of free time, I exercised my mind and body, reading and working out. I believe this is my second chance. Without a strong support network, I would not be where I am today. I accredit my family, friends, and many professional peers. The Chancellor at the UW-Stevens Point provided me my first opportunity to redeem myself, and lifted my expulsion from the University of Wisconsin school system. UW-Green Bay offered me my second opportunity, by accepting me in their computer science program. I hope that you may offer me my next step in a positive direction by assisting me in my education. I hope to be a totem to people facing adversity and challenges. That it is never too late for one to change their life for the better. Thank you, Calvin Berndt
Sarah Degner
University of Southern CaliforniaRCH CUCAMONGA, CA
I used to hate law. After all, the most notable representatives of law in my formative years were the officers breaking down our door to arrest my mother for the second time in six months, the prosecutor viciously interrogating her and my father in the trial, and the judge who ultimately sentenced her to years away from me. Every time I witnessed the legal system operate, my heart would be torn. As a kid, I blamed the law and its enforcers for the painful emotions that consumed me during the time without a mother. Now through volunteer work and education, I understand that the complexity of the legal system and diversity of experiences with law need to be confronted, and even embraced. I grew to understand the severity of my mother’s mistakes as well as my own mistake in prematurely judging a career that would allow my passions to flourish. Even though I endured a tumultuous childhood and yearned to escape its negative consequences, it ignited a desire to protect other children and families who might go through similar situations. My personal history with the justice system and work with the Prisoners Literature Project coupled with my position in education solidified my emotional and practical devotion to a career in criminal defense. I was introduced to the Prisoners Literature Project in my first semester through my pre-law fraternity’s philanthropy newsletter. I was enthralled by the Prisoners Literature Project’s mission statement of helping incarcerated people further their education and quality of life through the Berkeley Grassroots free library and submitted my application. From receiving the acceptance email to every shift I sign up for, this program has mirrored the joy I felt when I received a letter from my mother and granted me a purpose beyond school. Even though I was re-encountering a similar intimacy with the legal system I had recently been opposed to, fulfilling the book requests and writing letters to prisoners initiated my newfound appreciation and potential to further help criminals through law. My commitment to law school can best be exemplified through the accredited course I facilitate on Criminal Psychology. Having a previously incarcerated parent and experience in the Prisoners Literature Project has shaped my outlook and emotional intelligence, but researching criminal trials, nature vs. nurture, criminal profiling, and interrogation techniques for my criminal psychology lectures supplemented my subjective skills with more neutral, objective ones. A personal connection to helping marginalized members of society would be powerless and ineffective without the tools to enact change. Operating an upper-division class in the legal studies department has equipped me with attentiveness to detail, an emphasis on the thorough completion of objectives, and the mental endurance needed for my academic pursuits. I am pursuing a Juris Doctor degree which allows me to honor the childhood that made me pursue law as well as qualify my ambition of fairly representing criminals in need of a second chance. Law school is my next step in developing my emotional service and professional career.
Karinsa Morgan
Gadsden State Community CollegeGadsden, AL
My name is Karinsa Morgan and incarceration has impacted my life in a major way. I graduated high school in 2004 and shortly after graduating I moved to Florida to pursue my education in Fashion Design. I was not able to finish my degree and had to eventually move back home due to hardship. While back at home, I worked a lot of dead-end jobs to be able to fully take care of myself. I wound up heading in the wrong direction with the wrong people indulging in the wrong things. I got pregnant in 2006 and had my first child while trying to figure out life and what I was going to do with a child. I got into drugs very badly and I decided to sell drugs to make money to provide for my kid. On Friday the 13th of 2012 I got pulled over on the highway by a state trooper and I was booked into jail on a class A felon of Trafficking Cannabis with a million-dollar bond. This day was a transformation in my life and the beginning of my learned experiences. It turned out to be the best day of my life as I was more focused on being a better person and learning how to overcome adversities. I began to dream again and move forward in making my life better for me and my child. It took a while for me to overcome the next steps of my life with dealing with my new charges, paying for my probation, and establishing myself in the community. As I grew I had two more kids and I became even more stable and structured in life and taking care of them. I am now in a position where I have overcome my incarcerated past and I have enrolled back in college to pursue higher learning. I plan to graduate and show my kids, the community, and my sphere of influence that even though we may make a bad decision, we can always change.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 30, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jun 30, 2024.

This scholarship has been awarded, but we have hundreds more!
Find a perfect scholarship now