Columbia College has received an Intent to Award Notification for a $100,000 grant to support the expansion and improvement of the College’s programs serving currently and formerly incarcerated students. The grant is being awarded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Division of Educational Services and has a performance period of two years, six months beginning on July 1, 2019 and ending on December 31, 2021.
Over the past four years Columbia College has worked closely with Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) to expand educational opportunities for incarcerated students. The college started with a small pilot program at SCC, providing a few face-to-face courses and academic and career counseling to 40 incarcerated students in the fall of 2015. Enrollment has since grown to approximately 300 students in the spring of 2019 at the main prison and four prison fire camps.
In addition to the fast-growing prison education program, Columbia College has also launched the Making Alternative Transformations (MAT) program, a complementary on-campus program designed to assist formerly incarcerated or justice involved students to transition to the campus and the community. The goal has been to provide high-quality higher education programs which are responsive to their unique needs, while providing additional services to support their efforts to reintegrate into their communities.
“Expanding educational opportunities to the incarcerated students is an area of focus for Columbia College. We have more than doubled the number of courses offered at Sierra Conservation Center during the last year, remarked Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “Although the growth is impressive, there is still a large segment of the incarcerated population who do not have access to education. Having access to education helps the students prepare for life once they are free and helps reduce recidivism rate. We are delighted to have this grant that will enable us to expand our services further.”
Dr. Brandon Price, Dean of Student Services, will oversee the implementation of the grant. He explained “This grant will enable the college to better meet the needs of the justice involved students we currently serve, while also enabling us to serve additional students from inmate firefighting camps, local jails, and day reporting agencies.” Activities to be funded by the grant include: providing faculty and staff access to training related to the specific needs of justice-involved students; expanding transition services, such as college and career counseling; and expanding peer tutoring and mentoring programs serving justice involved students at SCC and on the Columbia College campus.
This award will allow Columbia College to continue build upon the framework of their Justice-Involved Student Reentry Program and provide necessary supports which will increase opportunity and access to currently and formerly incarcerated students, increase retention rates, support strong academic performance by program participants, promote informed and appropriate pathway goals and objectives, and build long-term and sustainable transition programs for justice-involved students in the area.
For more information, contact Brandon Price, Dean of Student Services at 209-588-5142.