College of the Canyons has been awarded a $372,000 Rising Scholars Network grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to increase services provided to justice-involved students.
The funds will allow the college to create an on-campus program for justice-impacted students to serve as a counterpart to the college’s existing programming at county jails, including Pitchess Detention Center.
“Our goal is to ensure Rising Scholars students feel welcome and safe at our college campus so they can attain their academic and vocational goals,” said Dianne Avery, dean of academic innovation and continuing education at the college. “We want them to be aware of the student services available to them, which includes employment opportunities, to ultimately keep them from returning to the carceral system.”
The grant will fund an on-campus Rising Scholars coordinator position to work alongside the college’s Rising Scholars faculty coordinator, as well as a dedicated part-time counselor, starting in fall 2022.
Since 2019, the college has been offering one-on-one counseling services for students at Pitchess Detention Center to mirror the services offered to COC students on campus.
“These services are the same counseling services we offer our on-campus students in academic, resource, and career counseling with a dedicated counselor that is also available to the students upon release as well,” said Avery. “This is currently occurring at one facility at PDC with plans to expand to all facilities.”
Avery says plans are also in motion to include employment services for justice-impacted students through building industry partnerships with local businesses.
“We want to ensure that students have the skills necessary to successfully apply for the positions industry partners need or require,” said Avery. “This is the most critical last step we need to build into our programming so as to close the loop, ensuring we have a holistic approach to address the needs of our Rising Scholars students.”
The California Community Colleges’ Rising Scholars programs serve nearly 20,000 justice-involved students in prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers, and campuses across the state.
In 2020, the Rising Scholars Network was created to expand the number of justice-involved students participating and succeeding in community colleges.