Connecting with Institutionalized Youth

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May 23, 2022

Wesley House Student Ambassador, Amber Miller, is an active voice for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth seeking to improve their futures. Coming from a place of experience, she is an incredible example of how a person can improve themselves, their circumstances, and their communities with dedication and passion.

Last weekend, Amber had the opportunity to speak with several incarcerated youth at two different detention facilities, share with them her experiences, talk about options, and introduce them to Project Rebound. In Amber's own words:

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"The first picture was taken outside of the facility upon arrival at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility. This first group we spoke to was in a large classroom setting with about 25 males, ages 16-18. They were very receptive to what we had to say on the panel through active listening. Engaged during Q&A, they are all taking classes and are interested in continuing to pursue higher education upon their release.

"Our group then went over to the O.H. Close Facility and met with a smaller group of youth workers who receive incentives and participate in programming, which means they maintain great behavior while incarcerated. They prepared a delicious chicken lunch which we shared as we gathered around in a circle to discuss what Project Rebound has to offer for their individual academic and vocational goals.

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"We then met with another small group of individuals in a classroom-like setting in the same facility. They were just as engaged, receptive, and enthusiastic about their academic goals as the others. These individuals were between 19 & 22 years old.

"This is the only mentorship program where people with lived experience being formerly incarcerated, and now obtaining their college degrees at CSUs, return to correctional facilities to speak with those who are determined to do the same. We speak the same language, come from the same places, and give these folks hope by letting them know that this is possible."

We are excited to welcome Amber to our staff, who joined our team in late February. We are also incredibly proud of her enthusiasm and dedication to working with institutionalized youth to make sure they have their best shot at a brighter future.

Project Rebound, located on 14 college campuses in California, is a program that admits students across the CSU system who are motivated to succeed in a field of study that leads to a bachelor’s or master’s degree or beyond. Like Wesley House, Project Rebound provides support for formerly incarcerated individuals to succeed in higher education and beyond, reintegrate into their communities, and avoid recidivism. The program at SDSU is one of our strategic partners and we are proud to provide housing and support services to their students.