Donor Spotlight: Our Monthly Supporters

By Mount Tamalpais College | September 1, 2019

We’re excited to share reflections from a number of monthly donors. As you’ll see below, everyone has their own motivation for supporting the Prison University Project. We hope you’ll find their commitment and dedication to our mission inspiring. If you are moved to set up your own recurring donation, you can do so here!

Though my monthly contribution is modest, I feel it’s a small way to honor my values and show my love for the Prison University Project’s work. As an educator, I believe in the transformative potential of learning under the guidance of talented educator-mentors… When I taught in the program, I watched students grow and become allies to one another and imagine new futures for themselves, including reconciling with their past and moving forward with purpose, self-awareness, sensitivity, self-advocacy, and communication skills to rebuild their lives. What’s more exciting than that?

—Lisa Lomba

Once I became engaged with the Prison University Project, I was hooked—the students’ thirst for knowledge and openness to personal growth far exceeded that of students in other educational environments I had participated in…. My visits to San Quentin consistently energized me and cemented my commitment to education as the professional field that I wanted to work in for the rest of my life… Although distance precludes the privilege of being able to teach at San Quentin anymore, I feel a continued sense of connection with the Prison University Project through my monthly donation… It has been rewarding to watch former students graduate and to see the course offerings expand over the years; what really impresses me the most about the Prison University Project, though, is the way they enthusiastically support like-minded programs nationwide. I never doubt that my money is facilitating excellence not just within the walls of San Quentin, but in on-site prison academic programs across America.

—Nick Grener

I learned about the Prison University Project from my daughter, Mary Gould, who is now Director of the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison but then was working on her doctoral dissertation on the representation of prisons in mass culture… In principle I support higher education in prison on the basis of both social justice and humanitarian grounds. Specifically I support the Prison University Project because, as an outstanding academic program, it demonstrates best practices in providing higher education in a carceral setting. The students, staff, and volunteer instructors are all committed to the highest standards of academic excellence. I have personally witnessed how the students and teachers inspire and challenge each other to put forth their best efforts. And perhaps most of all, I have witnessed the joy and amazement of students as they come to appreciate and proudly embrace their intellectual abilities. Such commitment and dedication to quality college education deserves to be supported wherever it is found and particularly in carceral settings where it helps incarcerated individuals to change and transform their lives. Since I am no longer able to volunteer, I want to publicly demonstrate my ongoing support for the students and Prison University Project staff at San Quentin by being a recurring monthly donor. In this way I do my small part in helping to financially undergird the Prison University Project’s mission through a donation it can plan on receiving.

—Baruch Gould

I’ve worn many hats in my 70+ years: rock & roll singer, competitive junior golfer, solar energy pioneer, real estate agent/broker, developer, actor, producer, Realtor, volunteer firefighter, First Responder, EMT, grand juror, non-profit president and now, a semi-retired real estate investor, brother, uncle, husband, father, and grandfather… As a parent of two sons who have struggled with drug abuse-related criminal behavior, I became aware of the Prison University Project when one of them was San Quentin bound. Although my son didn’t have the opportunity to attend, my interest in helping the program was born… I’ve learned that as volunteers, we get as much, or more, back as we give. That dynamic of give and take is what excites me most about the Prison University Project; its potential to bridge the gap between higher education and the access to it. My hope is that the model will spread to prisons across the United States. It’s my belief that ACCESS to higher education can play an integral role for success in life.

—Keath North

Please note that the Prison University Project became Mount Tamalpais College in September 2020.