Open Minds’ Sanctuary Highlighted in Commonwealth Times

November 14, 2014

English MFA alum and VCU’s Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Assistant Professor Liz Canfield fulfills her passion for activism by participating in Sanctuary, an offshoot of the Open Minds program. Open Minds, a joint venture between VCU and the Richmond City Jail, was founded in 2010 by English Associate Professor David Coogan. Canfield began teaching in Open Minds in the fall of 2011.

This past January, Canfield and her graduate assistant Seth Croft wrote and won a $25,000 Quest grant to create Sanctuary where, according to Canfield, jail inmates and citizens come together in a “non-judgmental space where people come to learn.” Currently, Sanctuary meets at the Black Iris Gallery in Richmond. Among other activities, participants share writing and music and receive instruction on the GED. Sanctuary has applied to become a nonprofit organization, as the organization must become self-funded when grant money ends. For more information, contact Liz at