Member Spotlight

Yolonda Houston Director
MS Consortium for Higher Education in Prison (MCHEP), Woodward Hines Education Foundation

MS Consortium Addresses Higher Education in Prisons
A trailblazing coalition is making headway to unite key partners and stakeholders to expand the state’s postsecondary education opportunities for incarcerated students.

The Mississippi Consortium for Higher Education in Prison (MCHEP) seeks to reshape the landscape of higher education within Mississippi’s prison system. The collaboration includes the Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC), Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB), Mississippi Institutions for Higher Learning (IHL), and Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF), in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC).

MCHEP’s mission is to offer incarcerated students a second chance, enabling them to become productive employees upon release and active community members. Higher education can decrease recidivism and boost employment upon reentry, leading to economic stability.

Fueled by a substantial three-year, $1.13 million grant from the Mellon Foundation through the MHC, MCHEP appointed Yolanda Houston as its inaugural director, a passionate leader ready to steer the consortium toward its visionary goals.

The collaboration ensures students receive instruction from highly qualified instructors from Mississippi community colleges and four-year institutions. At the end of each academic year, students celebrate their achievements in a completion ceremony, receiving certificates and sharing the impact of their classes with the support of MCHEP and MDOC.

By fostering thought leadership and productive discussions, the consortium aims to dismantle barriers to education and employment, ultimately providing holistic support for every student’s journey. The consortium partners with external groups to ensure student success by providing support, technical assistance, resources, and wrap-around services.

Looking forward, MCHEP aims to expand opportunities for certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degree attainment. The consortium will host a convening in the Jackson Metro Area on September 11 & 12, 2023. For more information about the convening and MCHEP, email

H.E.A.L. Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi

The Ed and Becky Meek Foundation

The Ed and Becky Meek Foundation is a beacon of support for educational development in Mississippi. Founded in 2021 by Ed and Becky Meek, from Charleston and the Paynes community in northwest Mississippi, the foundation remains steadfastly committed to strengthening educational opportunities and fostering economic growth in the region.

Despite residing in Oxford, Mississippi for the majority of their adult lives, the Meeks remain dedicated to the betterment of their hometown and East Tallahatchie County. Their passion for educational advancement and improving the quality of life in the community has been the driving force behind the foundation’s initiatives.

With a clear focus on East Tallahatchie County, the Meek Foundation has implemented a comprehensive scholarship program that to date has provided 79 scholarships totaling $259,300 and $115,100 awarded to over 30 organizations in Charleston and East Tallahatchie County since 2021. Their scholarships are designed to support students residing in the region, providing financial assistance for trade, technical, vocational programs, as well as two-year and four-year degree programs within Mississippi. By offering scholarships across a wide range of educational pathways, the foundation aims to ensure that students have access to the opportunities that align with their interests and career aspirations.

In recent endeavors, the Meek Foundation proudly awarded 30 scholarships to deserving East Tallahatchie County residents amounting to a remarkable $105,000 enabling students to unlock doors to a brighter future and pursue higher education at colleges and community colleges across Mississippi.

Aligning and recognizing community revitalization and economic improvement as integral components of sustainable progress, the Meek Foundation also extends its support to nonprofit organizations working diligently to revitalize the community and stimulate economic growth. Through the foundation’s Community Revitalization Grants, they are able to provide crucial resources that bolster local nonprofit organization’s efforts, fostering a more vibrant and prosperous East Tallahatchie County.

The Ed and Becky Meek Foundation stands as a testament to the transformative power of education and community support. With their unwavering commitment, the Meeks continue to drive positive change, empowering individuals, revitalizing communities, and shaping a brighter future for Mississippi’s students and residents alike. To learn how you can get more involved and support the Meek Foundation, contact Meg Sinervo at

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