U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

California Transfer Pathways: Expanding Pathways During and After Incarceration to University of California Bachelor’s Degrees

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $900,000)

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) proposes to expand our existing B.A. program, LIFTED (Leveraging Inspiring Futures through Educational Degrees), at Richard J. Donovan (RJD) State Prison in San Diego, California. As of Fall 2022, more than 10,000 incarcerated students were enrolled in A.A. programs in California prisons, but only 168 (fewer than 2%) were enrolled in B.A. programs. A BJA grant would support building out the infrastructure to ensure the UCI-LIFTED B.A. model, established in Fall 2020, serves 2-3 times more students, becomes the first state prison education program to establish Pell eligibility under the 2023 reinstatement, and replicates across all nine UC undergraduate campuses. Mounting evidence supports the benefits of post-secondary education for incarcerated students’ well-being, employability, and post-release desistance from crime. Completion of a four-year college degree while incarcerated both amplifies these benefits and establishes pathways to post-incarceration transitions into bachelors’ degree and graduate programs.

Activities: To achieve these goals, our primary activities will be: (1) expanding pathways for incarcerated students throughout California prisons to transfer into UCs to earn B.A. degrees, (2) expanding degree pathways to include more B.A. major options, (3) expediting time to degree and re-entry preparation through diverse teaching modalities, and (4) developing a model evaluation infrastructure.

Outcomes: Our outcomes will include: (1) establishing a Systems Impacted Transfer Coordinator position to facilitate broader access to UC B.A. programs for incarcerated students earning A.A. degrees (target goal: two annual pipelines of students (25-30 students/year/pipeline) applying to transfer into UCI (a) from within prison and (b) upon release from prison, (2) implementing a second major option for incarcerated students at RJD state prison, (3) piloting two online course offerings in prison, (4) developing an infrastructure to assess student learning disabilities, (5) refining and disseminating undergraduate measurement tools incorporating incarcerated students’ experiences, and (6) publishing an implementation report tracking successes and challenges.

Service area: The current service area includes San Diego County, where RJD is based, and Orange County, where UCI is based. Long term, the service area will include incarcerated students throughout the California prison system who establish eligibility to transfer to RJD and/or to UCI (upon release).

The project will focus on promoting racial equity for historically undeserved communities: people with criminal records of African-American, Latino, and Native-American heritage, who are over-represented in prison and in our existing B.A. programs, but under-represented in the UC system

Date Created: September 25, 2023