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San Francisco State University
Project Title:Advocates for College Education Success (ACES): A Program for Reentry StudentsInstitution Name:San Francisco State University Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Gerald Eisman, Director for Civic and Community EngagementContact Information:(415) 338-6271 , geisman@sfsu.eduWebsite:http://www.sfsu.edu/~icce/programs/aces.htm
Project Description:The intent of this program is to improve the academic performance and retention of formerly incarcerated students enrolled at San Francisco (SF) State, through a series of general education courses designed to improve study habits and critical thinking skills. Stakeholders are: the Associated Students’ Project Rebound, a program founded in 1967 by a late SF State Sociology Professor to help formerly incarcerated individuals gain formal admittance to the University and support them through the transitional reentry and educational process, the City’s District Attorney’s Office, and numerous nonprofits that provide services to formerly incarcerated individuals. This program is housed in the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. 
  • Rebound students will identify their learning behaviors and develop educational plans, increase motivation, and build academic skills in reading, writing, math, and critical thinking.
  • Program will generate community advocates by engaging students in service learning or community-based research projects.
  • Progress will be monitored in two three-unit classes each semester. Students are expected to earn grades of C or higher and to complete 12 units of university work per year. Our goal is to advance six students (50%) through all four courses each year.
  • Overall quantitative objectives were met. Of the cohort of students who began last spring:
    • 80% advanced to fall semester, and 75% will matriculate this year;
    • 75% earned A grades spring semester;
    • 60% completed Math 124 fall semester;
    • of the six (50%) who enrolled in English 114, the one student who completed that course earned an A.
  • Service learning and community-based research led to greatly increased self-esteem and pro-social behaviors. Nearly all of the Rebound students become passionate advocates for prison reform and higher education programs.
  • Qualitative outcomes (real names not used):
    • Sally: "School has been such an enriching experience and a means to make my life better. I am currently pursing my Bachelor of Science in Health Education. I will start an internship with the Center for Juvenile Justice."
    • Miguel: "The help I have received from this program has been pivotal to my academic success, and they have provided me with an example of how to succeed after incarceration. They inspired my choice to major in social work so that I might be able to assist other convicts in bettering their lives through education and help them escape the revolving doors of America's criminal justice system."
    • Jackie: "I just wanted to say how grateful I am for a program like this. It is because of you that my dream of attending a university finally came true. Everyone treated me with respect, motivating me even more.”
Challenges/Problems Encountered:Twenty-five percent of students in our cohort did not have homes or families to which they could return. Most come from impoverished backgrounds. Because potential employers ask applicants if they have ever been convicted, reentry students are denied employment. They don't have money to support living expenses, transportation costs to and from campus, tuition fees, or books.  Approximately 50% of the cohort had time management issues and did not have enough time to devote to their studies because they were working and juggling life as well as school. Adjustments: Offer early and frequent 1:1 counseling for reentry students, and peer-support group. Rebound offered free or book loans and transportation vouchers.
Evaluation Approach:Evidence-based program assessment: Quantitative evaluation included class attendance and the number of students who successfully completed the series of courses. Qualitative evaluations were based on assignments, class discussions, student interviews, and journals. Data was collected by ICCE from the respective instructors and analyzed in-house.
Potential for Replication:

The biggest factor for success for a program such as ACES is having an office similar to SF State’s Project Rebound in other settings. Rebound is staffed by and for formerly incarcerated students, and has a Board of academic advisors who are dedicated to social justice. These student leaders represent and advocate for Project Rebound to its Board and university administration. The accomplished students manage the Project's budget, schedule and conduct public speaking engagements at jails and prisons (as well as state and national conferences), plan and lead workshops, interview and select would-be students, and facilitate special projects about reentry.

Because of the work Rebound does with the City District Attorney's Office and community organizations, they are able to garner letters of support and work with Development on fundraising. 

CEO-to-CEO Contact:Leslie E. Wong , Presidentlewong@sfsu.edu
(415) 338-1381
Date Published: Monday, March 28, 2011