Grant helps incarcerated students complete degrees through Hartnell College – Salinas Valley Tribune

SALINAS VALLEY – Hartnell College will use a $ 480,000 three-year grant from the California Community Colleges (CCC) system to ensure more incarcerated students not only complete college courses, but also earn a degree and continue their education.

The grant, which will take effect July 1, is part of the $ 10 million awarded to 59 CCC Rising Scholars Network universities funded by Assembly Bill 417. The state program serves nearly 20,000 students involved in justice both on campus as in prisons, jails, and detention centers. .

The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of incarcerated students completing a degree, as well as help them obtain college credentials more efficiently, with fewer total credits. The overall goal is to help students lead productive lives once they get out of prison and reduce the number of those who end up returning, said Ana Gonzalez, who runs the Rising Scholars program in Hartnell.

“We want students to get to the finish line, so we can say,‘ OK, you’re ready for graduation or you’re missing out on this one class, ’” Gonzalez said.

Erica Padilla-Chavez, chair of the Hartnell Community College District Governing Board, said the Rising Scholars grant will support the faculty’s mission to remove obstacles to student success, especially for those who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education.

“This is one more way to provide access to the enormous benefits of education,” Padilla-Chavez said. “As with our traditional students, we know that these services can change the lives of incarcerated students and their families, while benefiting the entire society.”

Hartnell began offering classes for incarcerated students in 2016 following the passage of Senate Bill 1391, which allows community colleges to receive funding for incarcerated students. Hartnell now serves about 800 students in 25 course sections at the Correctional Training Center (CTF) and Salinas Valley State Prison, both near Soledad, and at Monterey County Prison and Monterey County Detention Center, both in Salinas.

So far, however, only one student has completed a degree. In 2020, Casey Brown became the first graduate of Hartnell’s Rising Scholars, and earned his associate’s degree in general studies at CTF.

Hartnell will use the funds to provide a greater counseling service to incarcerated students, helping them determine what they need to complete a degree and guiding them to complete those courses. In addition to paying for an additional part-time counselor, the grant will replace funding that now comes from a Student Equity Fund.

Finishing a degree is one of several reasons why incarcerated students accept the opportunity to pursue college courses, Gonzalez said.

Inmates can receive free time from their sentences for completing courses and obtaining credentials, as well as having a sense of accomplishment and setting a positive example for their children and other family members, he said.

Taking college classes while in prison also offers students a place where they can temporarily drop out of prisoner etiquette and instead take on the student’s identity.

“It gives them that mental space so that they can dialogue, agree and disagree, and be treated like a student and not like an intern, so that’s highly valued,” Gonzalez said.

Article submitted by Scott Faust, Director of Communications at Hartnell College.

Grant helps incarcerated students complete degrees through Hartnell College – Salinas Valley Tribune Source link Grant helps incarcerated students complete degrees through Hartnell College – Salinas Valley Tribune

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