We began with one PhD student, Sarah Higinbotham, who felt called to volunteer teach at a prison as a response to her uncle's incarceration. After writing fourteen Georgia prison wardens, one finally accepted her offer to teach a course. That semester, Sarah provided all the books for course on world literature. The class filled in twenty minutes, with ninety incarcerated men on the waiting list.
In 2010, after two years of teaching by herself, her graduate school friend Bill Taft joined the work. Together, they co-direct Common Good Atlanta, which operates in three prisons and has more than fifty faculty members from colleges and universities across Atlanta.