Students who have experienced the criminal justice system can face significant barriers to academic and career success. The California Community Colleges welcome all students, including those who are incarcerated and those who have experienced incarceration in the past. Colleges with programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students proudly form the Rising Scholars Network.
The Rising Scholars Network grew out of Corrections to College California, an independent initiative that aimed to increase public higher education access and success for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students. In 2020, Corrections to College California merged with the Foundation and refined its focus to provide support for students at the California Community Colleges. The result of this partnership was the creation of the Rising Scholars Network, a group of community colleges dedicated to opening opportunity and academic achievement for students who have experienced the criminal justice system.
The Rising Scholars team actively works to incorporate the unique needs of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students into the California Community College system and its equity initiatives. This includes advocating for the colleges and working with corrections partners to reach solutions, building resources for prospective students, and fostering a shared learning environment and a joint commitment to quality among members of the Rising Scholars Network.
The Rising Scholars Network, formerly part of the Opportunity Institute as the Corrections to College California program, is now housed at the Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Chancellor’s Office, with philanthropic funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ballmer Group, Bank of America, ECMC Foundation and Michelson 20MM Foundation.