About 65 percent of people released from prison in California will return to prison within three years, according to a 2012 report by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The rate of returning convicts for rebound scholars is only 3 percent.
Formerly incarcerated students who want to continue their education can do so at Cal State Fullerton with Project Rebound, a philanthropically-funded program that helps guide them through higher education.
The program, which started at CSUF in 2016, is looking to secure a partnership with Associated Students to help build upon its success, said Brady Heiner, Project Rebound founding director at Tuesday’s Associated Students Board of Directors meeting.
Jenny Oshiro, a Project Rebound scholar, is one individual who is in the program. To her, Project Rebound is a safe space and being a part of it has made her feel personally understood.
I started last semester extremely insecure, afraid to fail and unsure that I would be welcomed on this campus,” Oshiro said.
Romarilyn Ralston, program coordinator, said the program offers admission support for those currently incarcerated and upon their release can help with financial aid, food support and a variety of other resources.
Ralston said Project Rebound scholars are expected to give back to the community. This includes outreach on campus and in the city of Fullerton.
An important part of the success of these scholars are the activities offered to them through the program. These activities also help build community.
“It’s not just about them being a part of the Rebound program, but also being a part of the Titan family and then larger society,” Ralston said.
Project Rebound is the first program in the state and possibly the country that provides a university-based housing option for previously incarcerated students, Heiner said.
The John Irwin Memorial House, located in Fullerton, has room for six students in the program to stay after their release. The house is designed to support the community and allow for individuals to have a safe space, she said.
Project Rebound has also recently begun a housing support scholarship. Recipients of this scholarship had an average GPA of 3.7, Heiner said.
For students who have an incarceration experience, Ralston said the availability of resources is critical to the success of their academic reintegration.
“Our resources are limited and our need is great,” Ralston said to the board of directors.