News: Brittain Fellow Jonathan Shelley Awarded National Grant

Jonathan Shelley

Posted March 3, 2020

Second-Year Brittain Fellow Jonathan Shelley has received a $10,000 Whiting Public Engagement Seed Grant to partner with Common Good Atlanta, an organization that provides access to higher education for incarcerated people and their families, to teach a free college-level Shakespeare course for Atlanta residents who have been released from prison. The course will consist of rigorous analysis of dramatic texts and trips to the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse to see live performances, and will also engage students as co-collaborators in the creation of open-source lesson plans. When the semester ends, the project team will make these curricular tools available online and encourage their use by colleges, universities, and other educational programs teaching literature and the humanities to currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Common Good Atlanta, a grassroots nonprofit co-founded by former Brittain Fellow Sarah Higinbotham, and its team of all volunteer faculty offers accredited college courses to persons incarcerated in Georgia's prisons. Brittain fellows have been integral to the fulfillment of Common Good Atlanta's mission. Current Brittain fellows Mimi Ensley, Josh Cohen, Bianca Batti, and Julia Tigner serve as writing tutors at Georgia Prison facilities; former Brittain fellows Owen Cantrell, Lauren Neefe, and Ruthie Yow have been instructors for courses on Literature and Critical Thinking and Writing.

In September 2019, Common Good Atlanta held its first “in town” Clemente Course in the Humanities at the downtown Atlanta offices of Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit public advocacy organization. This grant will continue Common Good Atlanta's recent efforts to make higher education accessible to persons released from prison. By making the students authors of educational materials used by Common Good Atlanta and other prison education programs, it seeks to recognize the value of their work as well as give that work an active and lasting place in the world of higher education.

For more about the Whiting Foundation and Public Engagement Seed Grants, please visit their website.