Mount Tamalpais College is committed to offering resources for currently and formerly incarcerated people and their advocates, as well as supporting the expansion of thoughtfully designed, and effectively implemented higher education programs which foster opportunities for incarcerated people in prisons across the country.
Our Technical Assistance Program aims to develop a skilled, knowledgeable, and professional community of prison higher education practitioners by offering resources and services that any college, university, or prison can access to improve their higher education program; and by establishing widely accepted standards of practice for the field of prison higher education.
Interest in prison higher education is expanding all across the country.
The US Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Pilot Program currently has 130 colleges and universities nationwide slated to receive Pell grant funding for incarcerated students enrolled in in-prison programs, on an experimental basis. In California, the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1391 in 2014 generated new interest in prison education among the state’s community colleges, by allowing them to receive apportionment funding for incarcerated students, just as they do for students enrolled in classes on their outside campuses.
The expansion of higher education in prison will mean promising new opportunities for incarcerated people, if new programs are thoughtfully designed and effectively implemented. New prison programs will need guidance and support in order to respond to the particular needs of incarcerated students, and the significant challenges presented by the prison environment.
Mount Tamalpais College is committed to supporting the creation of a skilled, knowledgeable and professional community of practitioners by providing resources and services that any college, university or prison can access to improve their higher education program. We are also committed to helping to establish widely accepted standards of practice for the field of prison higher education.
We conduct trainings and workshops for new and developing prison programs around California, addressing topics such as the rules, regulations, structure, and culture of the California prison system; prison education program models, culture, values, and approaches; classroom pedagogy and innovative approaches; student support, especially for students with learning differences; college preparatory programming; and many other subjects.
We also host customized trainings, workshops, and meetings to address the individual programs' needs. We are currently working to create a comprehensive toolkit containing resources and materials on all the subject areas described above as part of our trainings that will be available to practitioners statewide and nationwide.
For the last 15 years, we have provided technical assistance and support to prison higher education programs across the United States.
In response to California Senate Bill 1391, which invested resources in community colleges to establish in-prison programs, we developed a series of technical assistance and training opportunities for new and developing programs across the state.
We are currently working to develop recommendations for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) regarding what materials academic programs should be allowed to bring into prisons. Adopting these recommendations will ensure that the rules are known on the ground at all CDCR institutions and will have a major impact on the expansion of prison higher education programs in California and across the U.S.
We have provided training and technical assistance to dozens of programs in more than seven states, serving as a model for new and developing programs nationwide.
Bakersfield College, SATF Corcoran
California State University, East Bay
California State Prison - Los Angeles
Castro Valley Unified School District
Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good - California State University, Los Angeles
Cerro Coso Community College, California City Correctional Facility
Chaffey Community College, California Institution for Women, California Institution for Men
College of Alameda
College of the Canyons, Los Angeles County Jail
College of the Redwoods, Pelican Bay State Prison
College of the Sequoias
Columbia College, Sierra Conservation Center
Cuesta College, California Men's Colony
Exchange for Change
Five Keys Charter School, County Jail 5, San Francisco
Flinders Law School, Australia
Folsom Lake College, Folsom Women's Facility at Folsom State Prison
Franciscan School of Theology
Fresno State University
Hartnell College, Salinas Valley State Prison
Humboldt State University
Insight Garden Program
Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UC Santa Barbara
Jackson College, Michigan
John Jay Prisoner Reentry Institute
KIPP Bay Area Schools
Lassen Community College, High Desert State Prison
Merced County Office of Education
Office of the Inspector General
Otterbein University Prison Program
Plattsburgh State University
Prison Teaching Initiative, Princeton University
Project Rebound, SDSU
Project Rebound, SFSU
Renewing Communities Initiative at The Opportunity Institute
Research Foundation, SUNY Systems and Administration
Root & Rebound
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Joaquin Delta College
San Jose State University
Santa Rosa Junior College
Sarah Webster Fabio Center for Social Justice
Salt Lake Community College Prison Ed Program
Southwestern Community College, RJD Correctional Facility
St. Louis University
State University of New York
UC Berkeley Extension
UC San Francisco
UC Santa Barbara
University of North Carolina Wilmington
University of Washington
Veterans Healing Veterans
West Los Angeles College, Jail Program
West Hills College Coalinga
Willow Creek Academy
Equity and Excellence in Practice: A Guide to Higher Education in Prison was co-authored by Mount Tamalpais College's executive director, Jody Lewen. It offers practical advice for anyone seeking to launch, expand, or improve upon an in-prison higher education program.
If you are interested in higher education programs in other prisons, please consider contacting the following colleges.
- Allan Hancock College
- Lancaster State Prison, Antelope Valley College
- Bakersfield College
- California State University, Los Angeles
- Cerro Coso Community College
- Chino Institute for Women, Chaffey College
- College of the Redwoods, Pelican Bay Scholars
- College of the Sequoias, Corcoran State Prison
- Columbia College
- Cosumnes River College
- Cuesta College
- El Camino College
- Folsom Women’s Facility at Folsom State Prison, Folsom Lake College
- Hartnell College
- Imperial Valley College
- Lassen College
- Merced College
- Norco College
- Palo Verde College
- Pitzer College
- San Joaquin Delta College
- Solano Community College
- Southwestern College
- West Hills College Coalinga
- Bard Prison Initiative, New York
- Bedford Hills College Program, New York (women)
- Center for Prison Education, Wesleyan University, Connecticut
- Cornell Prison Education Program, New York
- Education Justice Project, Illinois
- Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, New York
- Liberal Arts in Prison Program, Grinnell College, Iowa
- Prison Studies Project, Massachusetts
- Prison Teaching Initiative, Princeton University, New Jersey
- St. Louis University College in Prison Program, Missouri
- Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, Washington
To search for additional in-prison higher education programs across the United States, we recommend the National Directory of Higher Education in Prison Programs.
If you are interested in information on correspondence courses or are interested in other opportunities for incarcerated people to pursue a bachelor’s degree, please consider contacting:
Adams State University
Correspondence Education Program
208 Edgemont Blvd., Suite 3000
Alamosa, CO 81101
Ohio University Correctional Education
102 Haning Hall
1 Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701
Lassen Community College
P.O. Box 3000
Susanville, CA 96130
Coastline Community College
11460 Warner Avenue
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Feather River College, Incarcerated Student Program
570 Golden Eagle Ave
Quincy, CA 95971
Mukamal, Debbie, Rebecca Silbert, and Rebecca M. Taylor. "Degrees of Freedom: Expanding College Opportunities for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Californians." Renewing Communities Initiative, Stanford Criminal Justice Center and Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley School of Law, 2015.
Schwartzkopf, Susan and Jon Marc Taylor. Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada. Seattle: Prison Legal News, 2009.
The organizations listed below provide post-release advising and offer additional resources for post-release success.
- California Reentry Program
- Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
- Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network
- Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
- Project Rebound
- Root & Rebound
- Reentry Council of the City and County of San Francisco
- Underground Scholars
- Veterans Healing Veterans from the Inside Out
Below is a list of on-campus college programs and supports for system-impacted students in California.
- Allan Hancock College, BIGE - Beyond Incarceration, Greater Education (campus)
- Bakersfield College, Free on the Outside (FOTO) student club
- Berkeley City College, Underground Scholars Initiative
- Butte College, Ascending Scholars student club (on campus)
- Cabrillo College, Forgotten Scholars
- California State University, Bakersfield, Project Rebound
- California State University, Dominguez Hills, Scholars United
- California State University, East Bay, Level V
- California State University, Fullerton, Project Rebound & Rebound Scholars
- California State University, Long Beach, Rising Scholars
- California State University, Los Angeles, Project Rebound (campus)
- California State University, Northridge, Revolutionary Scholars
- California State University, San Bernardino, Project Rebound
- California State University, San Marcos, Transitions Collective
- California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Project Rebound
- Cerritos College, Court to College
- Chabot College, RISE: a collaboration between Open Gate and Chabot College
- Chaffey College, Pinto Club (campus)
- Columbia College, Making Alternative Transformations (campus)
- College of Alameda, New D.R.E.A.M Program
- College of San Mateo, Project Change Educational Services & Services for preparation to transition to community college on-site at the juvenile youth facilities
- Compton College, Formerly Incarcerated Students in Transition Program (F.I.S.T.)
- Contra Costa College, The Registry Program & Corrections to College Club
- Cuyamaca College, Academic counseling and assistance with registration and enrollment
- Cypress College, FITE club
- East Los Angeles College, Homeboy Scholars
- El Camino College, Academic Counseling and assistance with registration and enrollment (on campus)
- Folsom Lake College, Rev It Up (campus)
- Fresno City College, EOPS academic advising and tri-semester academic check-ins, counseling and Referrals services, one on one tutoring, textbook support & Unbound Scholars
- Fresno State, Project Rebound
- Glendale Community College, Reentry Pathways & System Impacted Intellectuals
- Hartnell College, Rising Scholars Network
- Imperial Valley College, FIRST (Formerly Incarcerated Resilient Students in Transition)
- LA City College, High Risers Club & Break it to Make it
- Laney College, Restoring Our Communities
- Long Beach City College, Justice Scholars
- Los Angeles Mission College, College Culture Reentry Hub (CCRH)
- Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, Reentry Pathway Program
- Merritt College, Street Scholars (with The Gamble Institute)
- MiraCosta College, Transitions Program
- Mission College, Student Support Services
- Palomar College, Summer Transition Program & Transitions Collective Student Club
- Pasadena City College, Formerly Incarcerated Radical Scholars Team (FIRST) & Community Overcoming Recidivism through Education (CORE)
- Rio Hondo College, R.I.S.E. Scholars
- Sacramento City College, ReEmerging Scholars
- Sacramento State, Project Rebound
- San Bernardino Valley College, All of Us or None
- San Diego City College, Urban Scholars Union club & City Scholars Program
- San Diego Mesa College, Project Re-Start & Borderless Scholars
- San Diego Miramar College, Urban Scholars Union
- San Diego State University, Project Rebound
- San Francisco State University, Project Rebound
- Santa Barbara City College, Transitions Program (campus)
- Santa Monica College, The Homeboy and Homegirl Scholars of SMC
- Santa Rosa Junior College, Second Chance Program and Student Club (campus)
- Santiago Canyon College, Project Rise (campus)
- Shasta College, Shasta Technical Education Program United Partnership (STEP-UP)
- Southwestern College, Urban Scholars Union (on-campus student organization)
- University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley Underground Scholars
- University of California, Davis, Beyond the Stats
- University of California, Irvine, Underground Scholars Initiative
- University of California, Riverside, Underground Scholars Initiative
- University of California, Los Angeles, Underground Scholars Initiative
- “Getting Out & Staying Out: A Guide to San Francisco Resources for People Leaving Jails and Prisons.” San Francisco: Reentry Council of the City and County of San Francisco, 2018.
- "Getting the Record Straight: A Guide to Navigating Background Checks." New York City: John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity, 2021.
- Mackay, Heather and the Prison Law Office. "The California Prison and Parole Law Handbook." San Quentin: Prison Law Office, 2019.
- "Reentry MythBusters." The National Reentry Resource Center.
- "Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide." Oakland: Root & Rebound, 2018.
- Crayton, Anna and Nicole Lindahl. “Back to School: A Guide to Continuing Your Education after Prison.” New York: Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 2007.
- "Education and Career Guide for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals." Study.com.
- Evans, L., and Karen Hsueh. "Funding the Future: Fellowships for Formerly-Incarcerated People in California." The California Criminal Justice Funders Group, 2019.
- Mukamal, Debbie, Silbert, Rebecca, and Rebecca M. Taylor. "Degrees of Freedom: Expanding College Opportunities for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Californians." Renewing Communities Initiative, Stanford Criminal Justice Center and Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley School of Law, 2015.