The Michelson 20MM Foundation has awarded a Spark Grant to the University of California, Riverside (UCR), who is joining the 1% of American colleges and universities offering bachelor of arts (BA) degrees in prisons. 

With funding from Michelson 20MM and the University California, Irvine, Leveraging Inspiring Futures Through Educational Degrees (UCI LIFTED) program, approximately 25 students at Norco California Rehabilitation Center (Norco CRC) will have the opportunity to complete a UCR degree this fall through UCR LIFTED

From Richard J Donovan Correctional Facility to Norco CRC: How LIFTED Is Reaching More Incarcerated Students

UCR LIFTED will expand the LIFTED model to more incarcerated students by offering face-to-face BAs in Education, Society, and Human Development. 

Four years ago, Michelson 20MM was proud to award a Spark Grant to support the first UC bachelor’s degree-granting program in a California state prison, offered by UCI LIFTED. As they are in the midst of their second year teaching in prison, we are thrilled to reach another California prison and those incarcerated there. 

“Norco CRC and the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility are trailblazing the future of higher education in prisons,” Kenia Miranda Verdugo, Smart Justice Program Manager, shared. “Our hope is that the other 32 prisons in California and each higher educational institution will follow suit, permanently changing the landscape of recidivism and countless lives.”

Scaling LIFTED Through Online Videos Available to All UCs and Beyond

In addition to offering a pathway to a BA, UCR will also create a series of animated videos supporting the transfer and admission process, which will be available online and in the education room at a California state prison for students to check out. 

Many incarcerated students take classes at multiple community colleges while incarcerated, which makes it difficult to understand if they’ve met the requirements for Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) certification requirements. Without knowing if they’ve met the requirements, it is difficult to apply and transfer into a UC or California State University.

By creating the videos and building a network between current BA providers and future BA providers, UCR is establishing the foundation so that each BA program in prison does not have to start from scratch.

UCR’s offerings will help the 18 CSUs and seven UCs that do not currently offer a BA pathway in prison. As UCI LIFTED and UCR LIFTED pave the way, we cannot wait to hear the transformative effect UCR has had on Norco CRC’s students and look forward to seeing other UCs and CSUs implement the model.

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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