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Project Rebound for ex-offenders comes to Sac State

In 1967, a former Soledad Prison inmate who served five years for armed robbery launched Project Rebound at San Francisco State, where he was a professor of sociology.

The program was revolutionary at the time and, nearly 50 years later, it continues to help currently and formerly incarcerated Californians earn their degrees at S.F. State.

Now, Project Rebound is expanding to Sacramento State and six other California State University (CSU) campuses. Funding comes from a one-year, $500,000 Renewing Communities grant provided by the Opportunity Institute. Sac State will receive approximately $71,000.

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Cal State’s Project Rebound wants to make life after prison successful through education

A new effort to help formerly incarcerated individuals gain access to higher education is coming to Cal State Fullerton, becoming the only initiative of its kind in Orange County.

Project Rebound, a program based out of San Francisco State University that provides mentoring and financial assistance to students who pursue advanced degrees after spending time behind bars, is expanding its operations to seven additional CSU campuses, including Fullerton, Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, Pomona, San Bernardino and San Diego.

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Silenced by the Pain of a Tumultuous Life

In 2011, I was released from prison after serving more than two decades―I am finally free! However, freedom isn’t free. Every day, in small ways, I am still in prison. Although it may appear that am free, I am not a free citizen. I am confined in my movement and in my social status. Permission must be given to travel, where I can live is approved, and I am a hostage of the background check. My past is the conductor of my future.

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Academic path for former inmates is selected as model program

Published July 2012

An SF State program that helps formerly incarcerated students turn their lives around through academic success has been selected as a best practice by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Advocates for College Education Success (ACES) allows formerly incarcerated individuals to take a series of general education classes that help them develop study skills while learning about issues relevant to their lives. For example, they learn statistical methods by analyzing data about the criminal justice system and work with community organizations to conduct research on such topics as prison reform and transitional housing.

The program is one of 12 initiatives nationwide to be profiled in AASCU’s Innovation Exchange in the civic engagement category. The Innovations Exchange is an online resource that showcases examples of creative, successful programs that could be replicated at other campuses.

“The success of this program comes from its focus on study skills and integrating subject matter with students’ lives, the supportive cohort system provided by Project Rebound and the students themselves, who have a real desire to change their lives,” said Gerald Eisman, director of SF State’s Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE).

The ACES program is a partnership between ICCE and Project Rebound, which helps formerly incarcerated individuals gain admission to SF State.

Project Rebound recruits students for the ACES general education courses and provides them with mentoring. Students may take part in the classes before they officially enroll at the University, allowing them to improve their study skills and build up academic credit before they start college.

The courses are offered through the Urban Curriculum, special classes organized by ICCE, which combines academics with community service learning and community-based research. The classes are attended by SF State students and staff from local nonprofit organizations and community groups.

Elaine Bible