The pilot Bard Microcollege launched in Holyoke, Massachusetts in August 2016, starting with just 18 students. Bard’s partner for this microcollege is The Care Center, an innovative community-based educational organization with expertise supporting the academic achievement of young mothers with limited financial resources. Bard Microcollege Holyoke is a tuition-free college for women, inclusive of trans and non-binary students, whose education has been interrupted by parenting, financial challenges, and other family responsibilities.

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Microcollege students having a discussion in class.
“The Bard Microcollege Holyoke community has become my family, my support system. I discovered that when I made education my priority and passion, the results always showed. This gave me the confidence to continue. I have developed the skills, courage, and self-worth to go out into the world and make a difference.”

—Jessica Cox ’21

“You don’t have to worry about money for books or transportation. You just have to worry about getting yourself out of bed and going to class. It just opened all of these doors and keeps opening these doors.”

—Candice Pelletier ’18

Microcollege teacher explaining in class.

“I almost don’t want to leave because there is no other place like it, but it has given me the tools I need to get to the next level.”

—Jacqueline Velez ’20

Holyoke graduates walk with other Bard graduates at Commencement.

Bard Microcollege Holyoke is a unique, tuition-free college for women of the Pioneer Valley. Developed in partnership between the Bard Prison Initiative and The Care Center, the microcollege is a community-based opportunity for women to enroll full time at Bard College at no cost.

The academic program — which culminates in an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College — is broad and ambitious. Coursework introduces students to a breadth of study in small classes and a seminar setting: from math and science, art and literature, to history and sociology.

Program features — including daycare and transportation, academic advising and paid summer internships — are designed to enable students to focus on and explore areas of academic and career interest. Student-led initiatives like peer mentoring and emergency babysitting offer extra support to incoming and parenting students.

Graduates of Bard Microcollege Holyoke make extraordinary contributions to their families and communities. Many continue their educations, earning full scholarships to complete bachelor’s degrees at colleges including Elms, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Trinity, as well as on the main campus of Bard itself.

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