Academic path for former inmates is selected as model program

An SF State program that helps formerly incarcerated students turn their lives around through academic success has been selected as a best practice by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Innovations Exchange logoAdvocates for College Education Success (ACES) allows formerly incarcerated individuals to take a series of general education classes that help them develop study skills while learning about issues relevant to their lives. For example, they learn statistical methods by analyzing data about the criminal justice system and work with community organizations to conduct research on such topics as prison reform and transitional housing.

The program is one of 12 initiatives nationwide to be profiled in AASCU's Innovation Exchange in the civic engagement category. The Innovations Exchange is an online resource that showcases examples of creative, successful programs that could be replicated at other campuses.  

"The success of this program comes from its focus on study skills and integrating subject matter with students' lives, the supportive cohort system provided by Project Rebound and the students themselves, who have a real desire to change their lives," said Gerald Eisman, director of SF State's Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE).

The ACES program is a partnership between ICCE and Project Rebound, which helps formerly incarcerated individuals gain admission to SF State.

Project Rebound recruits students for the ACES general education courses and provides them with mentoring. Students may take part in the classes before they officially enroll at the University, allowing them to improve their study skills and build up academic credit before they start college.

The courses are offered through the Urban Curriculum, special classes organized by ICCE, which combines academics with community service learning and community-based research. The classes are attended by SF State students and staff from local nonprofit organizations and community groups.

--Elaine Bible