Back to What's New

Kern County inmates could get a Bakersfield College degree with help from a new program

Grants totaling $5.9 million will help inmates in Kern County get a college education.

The Opportunity Institute said in a release that nine foundations helped fund the project.

Bakersfield College is one of seven programs that will benefit from the grants, according to the release.

BC will work with two Kern County prisons, the county jail and local reentry organizations to provide the instruction. The release does not specify which prisons.

The release states BC will go inside the facilities to provide the college classes. BC will also help former inmates former inmates enrolled at the school.

“By transforming these Californians into college students and graduates, this initiative will improve public health and safety, build economic and social mobility, and make our communities safer,” said Rebecca Silbert, Senior Vice President at The Opportunity Institute.

The nine foundations providing the money are The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Roy & Patricia Disney Family Foundation, ECMC Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Rosenberg Foundation.

“This is an unprecedented coming together of private foundations, our public higher education institutions, and our criminal justice agencies to make communities across California stronger and safer by investing in student success. We believe the public-private partnership is a model other states can adopt,” said Debbie Mukamal, executive director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center at Stanford Law School.

According to the release, an estimated 50,000 people will be released from California’s prisons in the next two years, and thousands more will be released from county jails. Without intervention, the statistics suggest that many of them will return to custody. A RAND study showed that participants in prison college programs have a 51 percent lower rate of returning to crime than those who do not participate and the odds of obtaining employment are higher for those who participate in education.

Stay Connected