It’s hard to imagine two more different places than an elite private school and California’s Soledad State Prison, which houses the state’s largest concentration of men sentenced to life behind bars. But for the past seven years, the two worlds have collided in an unusual way: through a book club.
Palma School, a prep school for boys in Salinas, California, created a partnership with the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) at Soledad State Prison to form a reading group for inmates and high school students — bringing the two groups together to learn and develop greater understanding of one another.
But the reading group has developed into much more than an exchange of knowledge and empathy. When one Palma student was struggling to pay the $1,200 monthly tuition after both his parents suffered medical emergencies, the inmates already had a plan to help.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” said English and Theology teacher Jim Michelleti, who created the reading program. “They said, ‘We value you guys coming in. We’d like to do something for your school … can you find us a student on campus who needs some money to attend Palma?”
The inmates, who the program calls “brothers in blue,” raised more than $30,000 from inside the prison to create a scholarship for student Sy Green — helping him graduate this year and attend college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
“Regardless of the poor choices that people make, most people want to take part in something good,” said Jason Bryant, a former inmate who was instrumental in launching the scholarship. “Guys were eager to do it.”
Link to the rest at CNN