The funds from the Chancellor’s Office will ensure support for the program for currently and formerly incarcerated students at Palomar College through 2025.

SAN MARCOS — The Transitions program at Palomar College will receive $172,000 a year from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office in a recently announced grant that will fund the program’s year-round staff, and its core summer program, through 2024-25.

Palomar was one of 59 colleges in the state to be awarded grant funding through the Rising Scholars Network, and ranked 8th overall in the state’s grant evaluations based on services provided to formerly incarcerated students, from counseling to tutoring to professional development and more.

“We are extremely grateful to the Chancellor’s Office for this support. Our Transitions program has impacted many lives and with this funding we will continue to do so,” said Palomar College Superintendent/President Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey. “The Transitions program is an example of the power of higher education to change lives and elevate our communities, and we look forward to many more inspiring success stories.”

Transitions, which is a Rising Scholars program, includes about 50 active students in a highly engaged and tight-knit network at the College.

Nora Kenney, Ph.D, who has served as Transitions coordinator for several years, said the Palomar College Foundation and other supporters have generously supported the program, and that the Rising Scholars grant will stabilize its funding for the next three years.

“We’re looking at team-building activities, speakers—events that bring the community together,” said Kenney. “That’s what really makes the program successful—when people join the Transitions program, they join the Transitions family.”

Kenney said the College applied for the grant in March and was notified on April 8, 2022 that it had been approved.

The Transitions program helps previously incarcerated individuals adjust to a college campus and successfully begin or resume their higher education. It also serves currently incarcerated students in the Vista Detention Facility, and hosts a summer session every year that serves as an orientation to the program and includes tutoring, weekly team building activities, guest speakers, two for-credit classes, and various other forms of support.

Rising Scholars serves incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students in the California Community College system. The program was established in October 2021 following the unanimous passage of California Assembly Bill 417, which included funding for “services in support of postsecondary education for justice-involved students.”

According to the text of AB-417, “California is home to millions of individuals who are living in the community after a history of juvenile or adult adjudication or conviction. … Research shows that postsecondary education reduces recidivism and increases the odds of finding employment for justice-involved students.”