Mellon Foundation awards Cal State LA $1M grant to launch in-person bachelor's degree program

LOS ANGELES - March 25, 2022 - PRLog -- Cal State LA has received a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will help the university establish the first in-person bachelor's degree completion program for incarcerated women in California.

The university is partnering with Chaffey College to offer the new prison education program, an expansion of Cal State LA's Prison B.A. Graduation Initiative, which started as a program for incarcerated men at California State Prison, Los Angeles County in Lancaster.

Incarcerated students at the California Institute for Women in Riverside County will take courses in pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, with an option in interdisciplinary studies in culture and society. Classes are expected to begin in fall 2022.

"Our Prison B.A. Graduation Initiative is a testament to education's power to transform lives and communities, and we look forward to expanding this important work with our new program for incarcerated women," said Jose A. Gomez, Cal State LA's provost and executive vice president.

Made possible by the Mellon Foundation grant, the new program will provide students at the California Institute for Women with the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree through in-person courses taught by university faculty. While opportunities for receiving associate degrees have been available, Cal State LA's expanded program will offer much needed opportunities for incarcerated women to earn bachelor's degrees.

Since 2005, Cal State LA's partner Chaffey College has been offering incarcerated women at the California Institute for Women the opportunity to earn associate degrees through the college's Turning Point program. Every year on average, Chaffey College awards approximately 60 associate degrees to incarcerated women at CIW who until now have not had a pathway to continue on to a bachelor's degree.

The liberal studies bachelor's degree program curriculum that will be offered to incarcerated women develops critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills while addressing contemporary social justice issues. It prepares students to live in multi-racial communities and work in careers such as education, law, journalism, publishing, government, business, and nonprofit work, among many other fields.

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Margie Low
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