Project Change, the innovative program that provides college access to students within the juvenile justice system, has been awarded the Apple of Excellence Award from the California County Boards of Education (CCBE), the only award of its kind across the state.
The award is given each year to one program administered by a county office of education that reflects the depth and breadth of a county education program necessary to address students’ changing needs. Only programs that received a Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association are eligible.
“Having watched Project Change evolve from a mere vision to an impactful program benefiting hundreds of San Mateo County youth is energizing. Project Change is truly changing lives in significant ways with formerly incarcerated youth successfully completing one and two years of community college,” said San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee.
Project Change is run in partnership with the College of San Mateo, the San Mateo County Office of Education, and the San Mateo County Probation Department. The program seeks to remove barriers faced by students involved in the juvenile justice system and provide vulnerable youth with tangible opportunities to attend and succeed in college.
The program provides students with college instruction inside juvenile justice facilities, support in completing college and financial aid applications, and direct access to postsecondary education. After exiting the juvenile justice system, students enroll in the College of San Mateo and receive a variety of services including a mentor and their own space on campus to convene regularly.
Students in Project Change achieve greater success in college compared with students of similar backgrounds and even average first-year students at the College of San Mateo. They serve as leaders on campus and in their communities.
San Mateo County Board of Education Vice President Hector Camacho, Jr., a strong supporter of Project Change, added, “The Board of Education is committed to Project Change and is grateful for the work our staff and partners do to help these students succeed. The results speak for themselves—students from our court and communities schools are now thriving in college.”