Cal State LA receives grant to bridge Prison to Careers

New Career Ahead text written on a road surface. News - Cal State LA receives grant to bridge Prison to Careers

Cal State Los Angeles announced on Friday that they had been awarded a $900,000 grant from the Department of Justice to establish a Prison to Careers Equity Pathway program.

The initiative is aimed at assisting formerly incarcerated college graduates in securing employment. Funded as part of the Department of Justice’s $4.4 billion in grants, the program will facilitate connections between graduates and regional employers and community organizations.

According to Taffany Lim, the executive director of the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good, the grant signifies Cal State LA‘s commitment to the transformative power of education.

Additionally, Tiffany stated that the Prison to Careers Equity Pathway program will contribute to breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration by supporting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students in earning college degrees.

According to the university, the Department of Justice is providing $4.4 billion in grants to build community capacity for reducing violence, assisting victims and youth, and achieving fair outcomes through evidence-based criminal and juvenile justice strategies.

The university’s existing Prison B.A. Graduation Initiative, initiated in 2016 with support from President Barack Obama’s Second Chance Pell federal pilot program, serves as the foundation for the new program. This initiative, the first in-person bachelor’s degree completion program for incarcerated students in California, operates at the California State Prison in Lancaster. Students in the program earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus on organizational communication.

Recognizing that higher education is linked to lower recidivism rates, officials stated the importance of addressing unemployment as a significant risk factor for recidivism.

Lim emphasized that the insights gained from incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students show the inadequacy of a bachelor’s degree alone. Even if a Cal State LA alum is released with a summa cum laude bachelor’s degree, the challenges of pursuing a meaningful career that utilizes both lived and academic experiences are significant, according to Lim.

To address this, university officials mentioned that the Prison to Careers Equity Pathway program, funded to provide training, professional development, coaching, mentorship, and career planning, will support students both inside and outside prison.