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ASI plans support program for formerly incarcerated students

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The Associated Students Incorporation (ASI) Board of Directors passed a resolution on Feb. 2 to bring Project Rebound, a support program for students who have served jail or prison time, to CSUSM.

ASI Vice President of Student and University Affairs Yomira Zamora said Project Rebound currently provides academic support, counseling and financial aid to formerly incarcerated students on nine other CSU campuses. Members of Project Rebound have a 95 percent graduation rate, she said.

“We hope it starts in the fall of next semester, so the fall of 2018 … we hope that we have everything established, that’s my personal goal before I leave, because I’m graduating,” Zamora said.

In order to reach this goal, ASI must create a budget, hire a director and staff and secure the funding for the program, Zamora said. The Project Rebound resolution will also have to pass a CSUSM Academic Senate vote on Mar. 7. Zamora said seven out of the nine CSU Project Rebound programs, including San Diego State University and CSU Long Beach, are funded through a three-year grant from the Chancellor
of the CSU school system,

Timothy White. This grant began in 2016 and will end in 2019. The costs of Project Rebound on CSU campuses range from $60,000 to $200,000. ASI and the Academic Senate are both pushing for more Project Rebound funding from Chancellor White, Zamora said.

ASI is also working with Transitions Collective, a student organization at CSUSM that supports students who were formerly incarcerated or have been impacted by the criminal justice system, to bring Project Rebound to CSUSM.

Martin Leyva, a graduate student in sociological practices and founder of the organization, said his organization conducted a survey of 163 students last year and found that 9 percent had been incarcerated and 78 percent have had family, friends or loved ones serve time.

Leyva said that the number of incarcerated students at CSUSM is much higher because he personally knows many who were not involved in the survey.

Leyva, who served time in prison himself, said Project Rebound is an important resource for formerly incarcerated students because “once we’re around like-minded people, success is inevitable… Any other resources that we can have that can break stigma and allows us to clear up our past, that’s what’s needed,” Leyva said.

Local community colleges Mira Costa and Palomar have programs for formerly incarcerated students. “We know those students eventually get funneled into CSUSM.”  Zamora said, “So if our two community colleges are already doing the work, we need something here so that when they come here they have that support system.”

Maria Valdivia, a business management major and active member of Transitions Collective, said without a similar support system from her community college, it would be easier for her to fall through the cracks at CSUSM.

“I remember I had lots of support at Palomar, but I had like nothing here.” Valdivia said, “I didn’t even take a full load of courses ‘cause I
was scared … but I just kept pushing.”

Valdivia said if the Project Rebound program begins before she graduates she will be applying for the support it offers.

For more information about support for formerly incarcerated students at CSUSM, email Transitions Collective at [email protected]

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