Postsecondary education is the catalyst for personal transformation and justice reform. When justice-impacted individuals have access to higher educational programs while incarcerated and have the ability to continue their education post-incarceration, the data has shown their recidivism rates drastically decrease. This, in turn, increases their abilities to enhance their communities and be engaged within their families. 

The Michelson 20MM Foundation is committed to helping individuals and communities impacted by the criminal justice system forge a brighter, more prosperous future through educational attainment. In keeping this pledge, we’re ecstatic to welcome our latest Smart Justice Michelson Spark Grantees, whose projects advance the following focus areas:

  • Innovative scalable programming that builds a “going to college” culture among the nonprofit ecosystem that serves systems-impacted individuals. 
  • Efforts focused on mitigating the impact/disruption that prison closures and transfers have on the educational trajectories of individuals enrolled in in-prison college programs. 
  • Efforts looking to scale best-practices for in-prison, women-focused education and workforce development programming.
  • Multigenerational programming that supports the children of incarcerated individuals and prevents the school-to-prison pipeline. 
Homeboy Industries, Project Rebound, and UCI Lifted Awarded Spark Grant

The Pathways to College model, established by Homeboy Industries, has been shared with over 250 organizations around the world. To further the model’s reach, Homeboy Industries will host an educational summit, which will create a community of learning among smart justice organizations. During the educational summit at the annual Global Homeboy Network Gathering,  they will share a structured framework so that attending organizations can not only replicate the program, but also tailor it for their communities. 

Alumni of Project Rebound at California State University, Los Angeles are more likely to attend graduate school than they are to recidivate. This is, in part, because Project Rebound recognizes that successful reentry does not simply require a bachelor’s degree, it also requires a pathway towards a meaningful career. To that end, their Prison to Career Equity Pathways project will be expanded into the California Institute for Women (CIW), where they will provide face-to-face leadership and career development training to currently and formerly incarcerated students.

In 2020, Michelson 20MM awarded a Spark Grant to support the first University of California (UC) bachelor’s degree-granting program in a California state prison, offered by UC Irvine’s Leveraging Inspiring Futures Through Educational Degrees (UCI LIFTED) program. A few years later, we are thrilled to see the model expand to the University of California at Riverside (UCR)! UCR will build upon the success of UCI LIFTED by offering their own Bachelor’s pathway program and also by creating materials for any California State University (CSU) or UC campus that would like to provide a Bachelor of Arts (BA) pathway in prison. A series of animated videos supporting the transfer and admission process will be available online and in the education room at a California state prison for students to check out. 

Please join us in welcoming the grantees! 

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation working toward equity for underserved and historically underrepresented communities by expanding access to educational and employment opportunities, increasing affordability of educational programs, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for individuals to thrive. To do so, we work in the following verticals: Digital Equity, Intellectual Property, Smart Justice, Student Basic Needs, and Open Educational Resources (OER). Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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