Bard Prison Initiative

20 years of defying expectations of who college is for and where it might lead.

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Founded in 1999, the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) is an innovative college-in-prison program working to redefine the availability, affordability, and expectations typically associated with higher education. Today, BPI students have earned over 600 Bard College degrees, and BPI offers extensive support for alumni in and around New York City while continuing to develop a nationwide network of leading universities and colleges.

Flyleaf Creative began working with BPI in 2016, vitalizing their communications, deepening their branding system, and establishing their digital marketing strategy. Our work has encompassed various media, to expand BPI’s influence and brand awareness through print and direct mail, including fundraising communications; digital and social media; and a redesign of the website to highlight all facets of BPI’s work.

Our work with BPI ramped up in 2019 as we prepared for the PBS broadcast premiere and subsequent streaming release of College Behind Bars, a documentary directed and produced by Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein with Ken Burns as executive producer. That work continued into 2020 and coincided with BPI’s efforts to expand access to education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main components of our work have been to:

  • Grow traffic to all digital properties by deploying flexible, multi-channel strategies
  • Engage their growing audience with a graphic, strategy-conscious digital marketing plan 
  • Educate visitors/followers with a deeper understanding of BPI including their past work and future goals
  • Galvanize support of the organization
We designed the award-winning, inaugural BPI 2021 Annual Report to serve as  an extensive chronicle of the work BPI has done to date, especially in light of the release of the College Behind Bars documentary and the COVID-19 pandemic.


Slideshow of several spreads from the BPI 2022 Annual Report.
BPI’s 2022 annual report featured a refined editorial style with portrait photography by well-known photographer Beowulf Sheehan.

Grow traffic to all digital properties by deploying flexible, multi-channel strategies

  • Design paid and organic strategy that is both nimble and authentic to BPI’s voice
  • Develop strategy for accessible newsletter sign-up, list utilization/management and email content
Three iPhones displaying the BPI email list signup screen, an eBlast promoting a giving campaign, and a second eBlast thanking donors for their support.

Engage their growing audience with a graphic, strategy-conscious digital marketing plan

  • Roll out website redesign and content enhancements in real time, immersing new visitors from initial points of entry to the website and creating up-to-date, easily navigable content which highlights BPI’s work, the results of that work and their students in new ways
  • Design and strategize social media campaigns and content that connect followers with the impact BPI alumni are making in the world and updates them with BPI’s ongoing efforts/results
Laptop displaying BPI homepage that features an image of a commencement ceremony, a student writing at a desk, and art for the
Screens from the BPI website featuring information about
Screens from the BPI website displaying the blog feed page, and a single article titled

Animation of an interactive graphic that shows the journey of three BPI students.

Educate visitors/followers with a deeper understanding of BPI

  • Create visually captivating print pieces and event takeaways that communicate BPI’s work and impact
  • Create social media campaigns that connect followers with the social justice issues important to BPI
  • Create print and digital materials to encourage tuning in to College Behind Bars and to support the surge in awareness as a response to the film

Two phones showing GIFs made to promote BPI: one is about the Crime Bill and the #PellYes campaign, the other is about the 160 courses offered by BPI.

Promotional mail piece for the

Galvanize support of the organization

  • Streamline efforts for donations by creating new access points for website visitors unfamiliar with the organization and creating a more user-friendly giving page interface
  • Design simple, mission-driven direct mail pieces to aid the efforts of BPI’s development department
  • Create a comprehensive Annual Report to not only share with constituents the important work that has been done at a very critical time, but to inspire further support of future goals
An open brochure with information about BPI.