SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — An innovative program at San Francisco State University has been helping former inmates earn their college degrees as soon as they are released from prison for more than four decades.

Project Rebound was created in 1967 by Professor John Irwin, who was a former inmate turned scholar.

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KCBS In Depth co-hosts Jane McMillan and Ed Cavagnaro spoke with Project Rebound Director Jason Bell, who is also a former inmate and became a college graduate through the project.

Bell said, that in short, it’s about former prisoners helping each other.

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“It’s a bunch of formerly incarcerated folks that have made the decision to reinvent themselves, to better themselves by means of an education. And the beauty of it is that fact that John Irwin laid the foundation for people to have that opportunity. It was difficult for him to get it started but he did it and it’s been going on for over forty years and helping a whole bunch of people,” he said.

“And how I had to come to realize that I had an opportunity, or a chance, to do that was by finding one of those old brochures in San Quentin prison. And I just started to write the program and learn about the nuances that go into obtaining a four-year degree because I was one of those people who had never seen myself doing something like that.”

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