Submitted by DAPO on behalf of formerly incarcerated students
Formerly incarcerated students are striving to make a difference and help others avoid making poor choices through a unique support group dubbed the Urban Scholars Union. Here is their mission statement:
“Who are we? We are an organization of formerly incarcerated students at San Diego City College, collectively, we have come together to support one another on and off campus to promote change. We are committed to dismantling the vicious school-to-prison pipeline. USU consists of student advocates with lived experience committed to supporting all cultures transitioning from incarceration to education. Our vision is to cut recidivism rates through Empowerment, Leadership Development, Reconstruction of Social and Personal Narratives,” according to group organizers. “USU is much more than a student club and they are on more community college campuses than City College. Also now on Southwestern, Miramar, and Mesa — just using a different name — and starting soon in Grossmont. This group is truly like no other. Every month they come together and go back to the very streets that most of them came from and give to those less fortunate with food, clothing, and much more and while giving hope that they too can have what they have.”
According to organizers, they are the first student organization at City College to offer scholarships to any student, including those who were formerly incarcerated.
The student organization also partners with their local Parole office, offering insights in how to help this particular population.
Members of the group have been speaking and educating others across the country such as Manhattan, Dallas, New York City and Orlando, Florida.
“It doesn’t matter where they are but they are always educating and proving to the world that they are not the monsters that so many have claimed them to be. Sharing their life experiences not only educates their
audience but empowers them so that their healing can begin. USU takes great pride in providing a safe space so that they can share their cares and concerns openly. In doing so they have been able to create a
family atmosphere where they laugh, hug and yes cry,” according to organizers.
They receive no financial support from the institution.
“(The formerly incarcerated students) do it all for the love of education and the changes it has made on their lives. Recently they have come up with a campaign titled’Breaking the Chains of Addiction and Incarceration through the Power of Education,’ so that they can offer more scholarships as well as becoming an organization where formerly incarcerated will truly have a place where they can get services that aren’t being given and not just say they do,” according to the organizers.
Learn more at www.urbanscholarsunion.com. (Note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)