Common Good Atlanta Core Convictions

  • We believe that broad, democratic access to higher education strengthens the common good of communities.
  • We believe that a college education helps people develop a deeper understanding of both themselves and the societal forces at work around them. 
  • We believe that communities are weakened when access to higher education is restricted on the basis of wealth, privilege, or class.
  • We believe that higher education can restore dignity and reconnect people to their own humanity, allowing incarcerated people to transform their influence on society from negative to positive.

Common Good Atlanta exists to enrich the community's common good by providing access to higher education, especially to incarcerated people and their families.

Common Good Atlanta began in 2008 when Sarah Higinbotham began teaching college courses at Phillips State Prison. Bill Taft joined the work in 2010, and by 2012, faculty from colleges and universities around Atlanta were teaching at the prison. Bill and Sarah registered CGA as a nonprofit in 2014 and a 501(c)(3) in 2016. We serve as the community partner between universities and the prison.

Phillips State Prison Scholars' Identity Statement:

Common Good Atlanta (CGA) is an organization devoted to expanding higher education beyond the traditional classroom setting.  Since 2008, CGA created a community of scholars inside Phillips State Prison by connecting us with various faculty and dedicated individuals from across the state, nation, and globe. This environment cultivates within us the knowledge, experience and confidence needed for a better future.

CGA is a diverse group of passionate, ambitious students that are capable of renaming the world. As scholars we work to break through stereotypes and constraints, by growing and expressing ourselves academically. By working through rigorous academic challenges in a creative and scholarly manner, we have transformed and challenged ourselves through humanizing experiences, which in some instances has saved our lives. The results of our work is demonstrated by a body of academic achievements that now stand archived in prominent institutions of higher learning and in several journals and periodicals.


  • More than 100 incarcerated men have completed a course

  • 10 consecutive years of programming

  • 29 full-semester courses offered since 2009

  • 50+ faculty from Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, and Emory University have taught at the prison

  • 14 combined classes with undergraduates from Georgia State and Georgia Tech


Common Good Atlanta

  • TEACHES college classes to incarcerated people

  • CONNECTS  Atlanta's best college faculty to the prison classroom

  • EDUCATES university students and the public about prison issues

  • ARCHIVES student work to assess improvement and to permanently document the prison students'  original work

  • DIMINISHES the power of stereotypes by giving incarcerated people the tools needed to tell their own stories

  • EXPOSES undergraduates to the real-world issue of prison by means of combined classes and academic writing exchanges

  • CHALLENGES incarcerated people to produce the highest levels of artistic work and scholarship