By Latin Cooke
Billionaire Warren Buffett and his big sister Doris Buffett understand the keys to success are through teaching, giving, and having a good education. Inmates across the United States, ranging from places like Sing Sing in New York to other institutions like Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington are benefiting from their generosity. The Buffetts fund over 20 educational, rehabilitative and re-entry programs across the United States. The main focuses of these are on reducing recidivism and reintegrating participants back into normal society.
When Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993 and the Higher Education Reauthorization Act of 1994, denying Pell Grant eligibility to Federal and State inmates, nearly all of the nation’s 350 post-secondary correctional education programs collapsed.
In response, programs like The Sunshine Lady Foundation, Inc. have sprung up. This program is dedicated to providing opportunities for advancement in education to those incarcerated. Doris Buffett has hands-on personal involvement with every aspect of the foundation and has given over $1,438,907 for the education of incarcerated college students in the United States as well as other humanitarian programs. She visits programs which the Foundation funds to ensure progress, accountability and success.
Haynesville Correctional Center in Virginia has a start-up program funded through Ms. Buffett’s foundation. At Haynesville, 30 inmate students benefit from Buffett’s Sunshine Lady Foundation. Students take college courses from Rappahannock Community College, making Haynesville Correctional Center an accredited college campus of higher education, a rarity among today’s correctional institutions.
The grant offers Haynesville inmates access to a program which grants Associate’s degrees with an emphasis in business for those seeking immediate employment or an arts and science transfer degree for those who desire to continue their academic education post-incarceration.
Going to college has always been a dream of mine; a dream which until recently has been out of reach. I thank Doris Buffett for providing me with the tools I need and the mindset to do better; to be more. The Sunshine Lady correctional education program is a true gift to those who accept it, strive onward, and grow through it.
So the question is: Does money bring success and happiness? Doris Buffet would say “Yes,” but with one caveat: “Only if it’s used to help others!”
Haynesville Correctional Center
Post Office Box 129
Haynesville, Virginia 22472
Associate Professor of English and Reading
Rappahannock Community College
52 Campus Drive
Warsaw, VA 22572