THEI brings degree-bearing college programs to prisons in Tennessee. Our alumni's stories attest to the transformative nature of education in prison. These life-changing experiences continue thanks to the shared mission and determination of THEI students, their families, our prison partners and statewide coalition members, a dedicated staff and board of directors, and generous donors who support this work.
Our Mission


Tennessee Higher Education Initiative disrupts systems of harm and creates opportunities for autonomy and success through education, support, and advocacy with and for justice impacted individuals.


The recidivism rate for people who enroll in more than one semester of college with THEI is less than 15%, and zero THEI graduates have returned to prison.


The average overall GPA for THEI students is a full point higher than that of students on traditional campuses of our partner colleges.


the cost-savings of THEI programming. The average cost to enroll a student in college through THEI is $3,710 per year, while the average cost to incarcerate someone in Tennessee is a staggering $28,043 per year.
Attending college has changed my life and outlook forever. I speak different, I hear different, I am different...I am never going back.
Jeffrey, thei graduate
Jeffrey, THEI Graduate