Advancing College Opportunity for Justice-Impacted Students

Advancing College Opportunity for Justice-Impacted Students

Building a strong prison-to-school pipeline is necessary as we continue fighting for equal access to higher education. As more institutions begin to diversify their student populations and highlight the several student identities that tend to overlap, there is still one group that is often left out of many significant conversations — those who have been negatively affected by the carceral system. Formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted students are often left feeling unwelcome in spaces of higher education because of the many barriers present for them. Barriers to college access include background checks and inadequate student services, leading to a decrease in retention rates amongst this student population. A justice-impacted student includes someone at risk of being incarcerated or who has been formerly incarcerated, someone who has been legally, economically, or familially affected in a negative way by the incarceration of a close relative; this also includes people who have been arrested, and/or convicted without incarceration.


While it is important to note that higher-ed institutions still have a lot to learn when it comes to serving justice-impacted students, there are current programs already in place dedicated to helping such students succeed. These programs are essential and vital to increasing retention rates amongst formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted students. 


Here is a list of current programs available: 


CC Level: 

CA Community Colleges: Rising Scholars Network

To find further information on a specific Community College 

use this program directory to learn more:  

Rising Scholars Network Program Directory 


CSU Level: 

Currently, 14 CSU campuses have Project Rebound programs working with formerly incarcerated students. To find information on a specific college campus, scroll down to the bottom page 

Cal State University: Project Rebound


UC Level: 

Currently, there are 9 UC campuses that have the Underground Scholars Initiative working with formerly incarcerated scholars throughout the state. We have listed the main page to learn more about the program’s mission and history along with links to each UC chapter available across CA. 

The Underground Scholars Initiative 



Link to Join:



Bruin Underground Scholars Program Website:

Bruin Underground Scholars Program Email: 

USI UCLA Student Org Email:



Facebook: USIatUCI




Facebook: Underground Scholars Initiative, UCR

Twitter: @undergroundSch3



Facebook: Underground Scholars Santa Barbara 


Website: and









Intake Form:


Edith Ramirez, Underground Scholars Program Coordinator

    DACA August 2022 Updates & Resources

    DACA August 2022 Updates & Resources

    On June 15, 2012, an executive order created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for immigrant youth. Individuals who meet a specific eligibility may apply to receive work authorization and protection from removal action. The program is subject to renewal every two years.


    Updates On Renewals

    • Renewals may now be filed online
    • First-time applications are not accepted
    • Advance parole is available

    **for more information visit & USCIS.GOV *

    July 6, 2022 Hearing

    • The DACA case of Texas v. The United States is still pending a final decision in a federal court in the Southern District of Texas. Arguments were heard on the case for the first time on July 6th. Legal experts believe this case will make its way to the Supreme Court. A long legal battle is still ahead for DACA!

    How Can Allies Help?

    DACA and Higher Ed

    • FACT: In CA you don’t need DACA to go to college or receive financial aid! Undocumented students can pursue a higher-ed with or without DACA in CA. 
    • Instagram Resource: @prepareweb


    Undocu-Immigrant Mental Health Grounding & Self-Care Toolkit

    Undocu-Immigrant Mental Health Grounding & Self-Care Toolkit

    2021 is here! Although it is a new year, 2020 left behind a lot of stress, anxiety, and anguish. If you could use some self-care and grounding tips, stick around because we got you covered! Immigrants Rising has come up with a grounding and self-care toolkit to get you started on your healing journey! 

    Practical Ways to Decrease Stress & Anxiety in Any Situation: 

    Mindfulness & Meditation 

    Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, develops awareness of the breath and body, and helps the mind focus on the present moment. 


    Grounding is a quick and effective way to reduce the intensity of emotions and anxiety. Use your five senses to soothe and reset your nervous system: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.

    Breathing Exercises 

    Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of physical and emotional calmness/soothness. Check out Breathing Bubble, a guided breathing exercise.

    In the mood for writing? Learn about your triggers and write down what they look and feel like. Next, begin journaling and thinking about what you need right now.
    For the full PDF toolkit, click here.

    Applying to Community College

    Applying to Community College


    Boba-drinking, Zelda-playing, Horror-watching brown girl from Oaxacalifornia.

    Welcome to Community College! Community college is a great option for students who are looking to save money, want to explore different career options, hoping to raise their GPA to transfer, etc. In addition, community colleges offer affordable summer and winter courses that can help you speed up your GE requirements if you already attend a UC or CSU! In California, there are over 116 community colleges you can apply to. 

    According to the CCC Chancellor’s office: 

    • Nearly half of students earning a bachelor’s degree from a University of California campus in science, technology, engineering and mathematics transferred from a California community college.
    • Twenty-nine percent of University of California graduates and 51% of California State University graduates started at a community college.
    • Students earning a degree or certificate from a California community college nearly double their earnings within three years.

    If these stats are something that you want to be a part of, great, keep following along! 

     How to Apply

    1. The first thing you want to do when applying to community college is visit This helpful source lets you easily go down the list of 116 community colleges in California.
    2. After selecting the college that interests you the most, (visit our college list if you’re still searching for your just right college), you will be redirected to the college’s personal application.
    3. While every application is different, a majority of applications will consist of:
      • Your Full Name
      • Mailing Address
      • Social Security (SSN)
      • Driver’s License Number
      • High School Transcripts
      • Latest English and Math Classes Completed
    4. After the application is finished, you then complete your FAFSA or Dream Act Application and connect the school you are applying to using their school code.

      If you need support applying for FAFSA, find our guide here 

    5. After finishing your application, your college will most likely request for you to attend orientation, take a math/ english placement test (if you were not able to send in your high school transcripts), and meet with an academic counselor to plan out your courses.
    6. Finally, you start registering for classes and wait for the semester to begin. You are now a college student!

    Here are some important dates:  

    FAFSA: Opens October 1st- Closes June 30th, 2020

    Class Registration: Varies per Campus (check on their personal website)

    Other Important Sites to pay for Community College:

    CCC Money 

    CCC California Promise Grant