This article appeared in the January 08, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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How inmates raised $30,000 to put student through school

Courtesy of Jason Bryant
Jason Bryant visits Sy Green, the student whose high school tuition was paid for by incarcerated men at a correctional facility in Soledad, California. Mr. Bryant, who helped lead the donation drive, is now out of prison and part of the leadership team for the nonprofit Creating Restorative Opportunities and Programs, known as CROP.
April Austin
Weekly Deputy Editor, Books Editor

It was an unusual act: incarcerated men pooling their prison earnings to pay tuition for a young man to attend a private high school. But when you probe deeper, it’s clear that a larger purpose was at work. 

In 2016, Sy Green’s parents couldn’t pay for his sophomore year at Palma School, a Roman Catholic boys school in Salinas, California. After medical challenges and job losses, even with the school’s help the tuition was out of reach. Enter a group of inmates at a state correctional facility in Soledad, who wanted to sponsor a student in appreciation for the school’s ongoing prison outreach. They asked teacher Jim Micheletti if he could recommend someone who needed their help.

“I was incredulous,” Mr. Micheletti says by phone.

One of the incarcerated men, Jason Bryant, who helped collect donations from others in his unit, says the men who contributed were eager to add value to someone’s life. “The damage to our victims can’t be undone, and we can make the choice to sow new things into the world. Now we have the opportunity to sow goodness, to sow charity, to sow love,” he says. 

Today, Mr. Bryant and four others are out of prison. Four of them work at a nonprofit that supports individuals inside and outside prison. And they are working on providing another scholarship.

Mr. Green, the student, graduated from Palma last spring. He started his first year of college, where he’s majoring in communication and playing basketball. He remains in close touch with Mr. Bryant.

He says that with so much invested in him in high school, whenever he was tempted to do less than his best, he knew he had to deliver 100%. “It was extra motivation,” he says.

This article appeared in the January 08, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 01/08 edition
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