The LEAD (Lived Experience Activating Dialogue) Fellowship is a holistic reentry initiative at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site that gives people coming home from prison the tools and support they need to transform their lives, their communities, and the world.
Eastern State Penitentiary invites recently incarcerated people to join a true fellowship of their peers, working together to realize their full potential and reacclimate to life outside prison walls — mind, body, and soul. Every LEAD Fellow is paid for their participation and receives hands-on job training, establishing a pathway to meaningful, sustainable career opportunities in the museum field or other fields of interest. LEAD Fellows are also provided access to vital resources like housing support, financial education, and career services.
In addition to providing structured reentry support, the LEAD Fellowship is a bridge-building program that has a positive impact both on-site at Eastern State Penitentiary and in the community beyond. LEAD Fellows share their unique perspectives as formerly incarcerated people with museum visitors, unraveling stereotypes about people who have been incarcerated and augmenting the conversations about the criminal justice system happening at Eastern State every day. LEAD Fellows also engage community members beyond the walls of ESP in discussions about the impact of mass incarceration and their own lived experiences.
The LEAD Fellowship is a flagship program of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. An active prison from 1829 through 1971, Eastern State is now a museum that interprets, and encourages dialogue about, the legacy of criminal justice reform in America.