Formerly Incarcerated Student Leadership Institute

The Berkeley Underground Scholars program recently hosted the launch meeting of a new Leadership Institute that builds capacity for California Community Colleges to serve formerly incarcerated students. The two-day meeting included leaders from 20 community colleges, from Shasta College in the north to Imperial Valley in the south. The community college teams, which included students, faculty and administrators, will participate in a year-long community practice designed to introduce participants to program strategies that engage and support formerly incarcerated students in community colleges and universities. To better understand the challenges prospective students encounter in their transition from incarceration to college, institute participants spent their first day meeting with inmates and staff at Solano Prison.

The Berkeley Underground Scholars program, with its strong track record of outreach, mentoring, and academic support for formerly incarcerated students, was the inspiration for State Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) effort to secure $250,000 in state funding for the project which is administered by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. The Opportunity Institute, which matched the state investment, plays a lead role in the Leadership Institute, along with the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. The Berkeley Underground Scholars play a lead role in the partnership, providing mentoring support to students in participating colleges and serving as workshop leaders.