In 1952, John Irwin (1929-2010) robbed a gas station and served a five-year sentence for armed robbery
in Soledad Prison. During his time in prison he earned 24 college credits through a university extension
program. After his release from prison, Irwin earned a B.A. from UCLA, a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and
then served as a Professor of Sociology and Criminology at San Francisco State University for 27 years,
during which he became known internationally as an expert on the U.S. prison system.
In 1967, Irwin created Project Rebound as a way to matriculate people into San Francisco State University
directly from the criminal justice system. Since the program’s inception, hundreds of formerly incarcerated
people have obtained bachelor’s degrees and postgraduate degrees. In 2016, with the support of the Opportunity
Institute and the CSU Chancellor Timothy White, Project Rebound expanded beyond San Francisco State into a
consortium of nine CSU campus programs. The CSU Project Rebound Consortium is now a state- and grant-funded
network of programs operating at CSU campuses in Bakersfield, Fresno, Fullerton, Los Angeles, Pomona,
Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Since 2016, Project Rebound students system-wide, have earned an overall grade point average of 3.0, have
a zero percent recidivism rate, and 87% of graduates have secured full-time employment or admission to post-
graduate programs. The mission of the CSU Project Rebound Consortium is to support the higher education and
successful reintegration of the formerly incarcerated through the mentorship and living example of other formerly
incarcerated students and graduates. Project Rebound constructs a life-affirming alternative to the revolving door
policies of mass incarceration by making higher education more accessible and supportive of formerly incarcerated
students so that they can acquire the knowledge and skills of a university education, enhance their capacity for civic
engagement and community leadership, secure meaningful and gratifying employment, empower themselves and their
families, and ultimately make stronger, safer communities.
The MISSION of the CSU Project Rebound Consortium is to support the higher education and successful reintegration
of the formerly incarcerated through the mentorship and living example of other formerly incarcerated students and
graduates. Project Rebound constructs a life-affirming alternative to the revolving door policies of mass incarceration
by making higher education more accessible and supportive of formerly incarcerated students so that they can acquire
the knowledge and skills of a university education, enhance their capacity for civic engagement and community leadership,
secure meaningful and gratifying employment, empower themselves and their families, and ultimately make stronger, safer
1. The Intrinsic Value of Persons. We believe that every person has inherent value and holds the power of possibility and
transformation within them.
2. Equitable Access to Education. We believe that access to meaningful, high-quality, face-to-face higher education is |
fundamental to breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, and confinement.
3. Formerly Incarcerated Leadership. We believe that the integration, education, and leadership of formerly incarcerated people are
essential to the work of creating solutions to the social crisis of mass incarceration.
4. Education as Public Safety. We believe that meaningful, high-quality higher education ultimately makes stronger, safer communities;
we believe that public resources are better invested in education and other opportunities for transformation than prisons and punishment.
5. Civic Engagement. We believe that community engagement is at once a right, a responsibility, and a means of empowerment; we aim
to inspire all Rebound Scholars to be informed and engaged civic agents.
KEY SERVICE OBJECTIVES
1. Foster a college-going culture among and build recruitment pathways for currently and formerly incarcerated people.
a. Conduct off-campus and on-campus outreach, recruitment, and informational sessions, including in jails/prisons.
b. Respond to all letters and inquiries.
c. Communicate with potential applicants regarding admissions requirements and processes.
2. Help prospective students prepare, apply, and matriculate.
a. Conduct initial college assessment and provide detailed feedback to prospective students.
b. Help prospective students develop an admissions plan.
c. Help prospective students apply for admission.
d. Help prospective students apply for financial aid.
e. Help prospective students complete the steps needed to enroll.
f. Help prospective students remove obstacles to academic enrollment (e.g., filing appeal forms for admissions, loan rehabilitation, probationary forms etc.).
3. Support enrolled students to persist, graduate and pursue career options.
a. Provide referrals and connections to reentry service providers.
b. Support students to obtain appropriate academic advising.
c. Help students register for courses and navigate campus technology, such as course management systems.
d. Help students develop study skills and other “soft” skills needed to succeed.
e. Provide direct financial support to assist with critical needs such as books, school supplies, transportation, meals, application and test fees, based on available resources.
f. Maintain an environment that cultivates inclusive community and a sense of belonging among students.
4. Support enrolled students to participate in student life and leadership, community service, and civic engagement.
a. Advise and assist students to create and maintain an active student club or organization as appropriate.
b. Cultivate supportive relations and advocate with Associated Students.
c. Cultivate supportive relations and advocate with local, state, and federal elected officials.
d. Encourage student community service and civic engagement.
5. Establish and foster empowering networks among Project Rebound alumni and students.
a. Build and maintain a Project Rebound Alumni Association.
b. Host or foster events that bring Project Rebound alumni and existing Project Rebound students together.
c. Leverage Project Rebound alumni success to create opportunities for other Project Rebound alumni, graduates, and students (e.g., internships, fellowships, jobs).