Golden Gate Express | Project Rebound offers students a 12-unit certificate program

SF State is one of 14 state universities in California to offer Project Rebound – a program that offers a degree to formerly incarcerated individuals. SF State is also the first four-year university to offer a certificate program for incarcerated youth, through Project Rebound.

The certificate offers four courses – Critical Thinking and Ethnic Studies Experience, All Power to the People: Comparative Freedom Movements of the “Sixties”, Race, Activism and Climate Justice and Race, Gender and Science Fiction and is aimed at older students from 17 to 25 years old. years.

One of the students, who went through Kamryn M. for confidentiality, said he learned a lot from the program and had a deeper understanding of different races and cultures beyond his black heritage.

“Ethnic studies taught me to be more empathetic towards other races,” he said. “I can see the struggle of every race from the start. After taking this course, I will learn to be more respectful in a way that they will probably really appreciate. It allows us to have a better relationship.

The Rebound Project was created in 1967 by SF state professor John Irwin to help formerly incarcerated people get a higher education. However, the 12-unit undergraduate certificate for those currently incarcerated became available at SF State in the fall of 2021.

Amy Sueyoshi, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State poses for a portrait in their office in the College of Ethnic Studies & Psychology Building on Tuesday. (Maximo Vazquez/Golden Gate Xpress). (Maximo Vazquez)

According to Dean of Ethnic Studies Amy Sueyoshi, the project had been in development for about a year and a half. It was made possible through the partnership of the SF State College of Ethnic Studies with the California Division of Juvenile Justice. The DJJ provides education and treatment to youth in California’s juvenile justice system.

There were 35 students enrolled in the program last semester, while 53 enrolled this semester, showing a sign of growth in the early stages of the program. Sueyoshi is happy to see the growth and impact the program is having on his students.

“While it’s not 20,000 students, we still think it’s something we’re proud to offer all 53 students,” she said.

CSU students enrolled in Project Rebound have successfully completed the program. Of the 287 students enrolled in 2018, 89.8% returned the following year, compared to 84.3% of other CSU students. Additionally, none of the Project Rebound students between 2016 and 2020 returned to prison despite California’s 50% recidivism rate in 2018.

Another student, who went by Katerin M. for privacy, didn’t care much about school before being incarcerated, but now relishes the opportunity to learn more about the history of different groups of people.

“Now I know more about other people’s stories,” she said. “It changed my perspective and now I want to learn even more. When the teachers say it’s time to go, I want more time because I really like these classes.

Race and Resistance Studies Professor Nate Tan said he believed incarcerated people deserved to be empowered through education, particularly because of the disenfranchisement they face, such as denial employment opportunities and the right to vote.

In 2020, 70% of colleges asked applicants about their criminal history. Almost two-thirds of those with a criminal history do not complete their application upon seeing this question and are therefore never considered for admission.

“When we think of ethnic studies as an education that’s supposed to empower the disenfranchised, I think of the disenfranchisement of the incarcerated,” Tan said. “I think the certificate program through SF State is one of many steps that need to be taken to be part of a rehabilitative process, a healing process for people in the prison system.”

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