Last week, Urban Strategies Council staff attended the Creating Pathways from Youth Incarceration to Higher Education in Sacramento.  The goal of the conference was to initiate networking and to build solidarity for a statewide effort to create strong post secondary pathways for young people involved with the juvenile justice system.  Co-hosted by the Youth Law Center and the San Mateo County Community College District, the conference brought a sense of urgency and opportunity to support systems impacted young people in their engagement with community college Career Technical Education (CTE) certificate and AA degree programs.

The Project Change program at the College of San Mateo was presented as a highly successful model for supporting transitions from incarceration in juvenile facilities to successful student experiences on the College of San Mateo campus.  Initiated in 2014 Project Change has strong support from the college and district administration, as well as from important partnerships with San Mateo County’s Probation Department and Office of Education and several community based organizations. The program’s success reflects the resilience, capacity and determination of the students, when given well coordinated encouragement and opportunity.  Read about Project Change here.  Highlights included presentations from students at the College of San Mateo, Cal State East Bay and UC Davis, who shared powerful accounts of how they’ve reversed the school to prison pipeline for themselves and are helping to strengthen these new pipelines for others.

This post secondary pathway work from the juvenile justice system parallels adult pathway work already well underway from county jails and state prisons to community colleges and four year institutions.  Urban Strategies Council has been a key partner in helping to establish the East Bay Consortium of Support Programs for Formerly Incarcerated College Students (Consortium).  Four of the ten community colleges in Alameda and Contra Costa counties have developed on-campus support programs for formerly incarcerated students. UC Berkeley has a program and Cal State East Bay is developing one. The Consortium was formed last March to support best practices and sustainability for existing programs and to encourage the development of programs on local campuses where they do not yet exist. The Consortium is planning a convening for the students, programs, and partners on April 6 at Chabot College so stay tuned.

For more information on this work statewide see Degrees of Freedom, Expanding College Opportunities for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Californians  here, and for the East Bay Consortium contact Charles Eddy at Urban Strategies Council.