Onward and Upward

Project Rebound provides vital support for formerly incarcerated students.

Project Rebound was born as a way to help offer new opportunities to the formerly incarcerated. The project gives students tools to succeed outside the prison system, offering help with admission, finding homes and jobs, financial aid assistance, help with legal services and much more. In essence, the project helps students find community on campus and acclimate to life outside the criminal justice system. These efforts help redirect the school to prison pipeline to an education centered mechanism that inspires students to thrive and further their educational pursuits.

For Tony Wallin, HSU graduate and Project Rebound program coordinator at HSU, the program is more than just an association.

“Now we have a program, really a family, a support system, a network where all the staff members are formerly incarcerated, as well as students,” Wallin said.

Project Rebound has been a feature of the CSU system for over 50 years. However, Humboldt State joined the consortium, with major help from students, in 2020. Since its inception at Humboldt State, the program has provided resources for the formerly incarcerated as well as made efforts to educate faculty and other students.

HSU’s Project Rebound has sponsored events via Zoom and held workshops for full campus education about what it means to be formerly incarcerated, as well as how flawed the prison system really is. Former topics included liberating women in prison, COVID-19 in prisons and most recently, a panel with Dr. Xuan Santos and Martin Leyva entitled, “We have nothing to lose but our chains- the art and culture of being OGs, Opportunity Givers.”

This semester, the project has expanded its efforts and implemented a workshop with children currently incarcerated at juvenile hall. This program is designed for incarcerated youth to connect with college students that understand what they are going through. The ten week program just entered its third week and things are going well.

Jeremy Tietz, current HSU student and Outreach Specialist for Project Rebound, participates in the youth program. He said that kids in the program were somewhat hesitant, but as they learned what Project Rebound was about, were thankful for their efforts.

“They thought we were just going to be another group of of white, square guys coming in and teaching some lame-ass class,” Tietz said. “Almost all of them came up to all of us and thanked us for showing them respect.”

For students of all ages, these outreach programs can be vital tools for success. This is why Project Rebound at HSU has been so welcomed and important. For many formerly incarcerated people, education is the mechanism and platform for victory.

In the recent Zoom with Dr. Xuan Santos, Executive Director for Project Rebound San Marcos, Dr. Santos reiterates the message of education. Interspersed with stories of his past and the problems he encountered, the ultimate message was get educated and support people getting educated.

“The ultimate goal is to destroy those chains,” Santos said. “Nobody deserves to feel like we have hopelessness in this world, we should be a community of hope.”

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