At El Camino College, some students have been influenced by the criminal justice system. The pre-school captive re-entry student endowment, or first program, works to support students who often face significant educational barriers.
On May 2, El Camino’s first program received a $160,000 grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, which will be used to help students affected by basic needs, educational support, and career development training from the criminal justice system.
El Camino is one of 59 colleges in the state that secure Rising Scholars Network grants designed to support students affected by the criminal justice system.
A 2018 analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative—a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization—found that formerly incarcerated people are eight times less likely to complete college than the general public.
And, about half of the formerly incarcerated population in the United States holds only a high school diploma, or GED, “credentials that are of diminishing value in today’s job market,” the PPI report states.
Throughout its lifetime, El Camino’s first program has served 56 students. According to FIRST coordinator Ricky Gonzalez, there are currently 40 students enrolled in the program.
“Our students are way ahead when it comes to our programming and offerings,” Gonzalez said, “from academic support to basic needs like food and housing assistance.”
The goal of the program, Gonzalez said, is to help formerly incarcerated students “complete college successfully through a variety of training/workshops, support groups, and mentorship support that foster collaboration and community while removing systemic barriers.” and successfully meet academic goals.”
With a grant of $160,000, El Camino will expand academic and professional development support services for those students.
“Funds from the grant will be used to provide dedicated academic counseling as well as mentoring for success coaches and students in the first program,” the El Camino press release said. “Workshops focused on career training, relocation options, and job placement will also be available, in addition to activities advocating for and strengthening opportunities for justice-affected students.”