CASA volunteers find themselves playing a critical role in supporting a sorely needed post-secondary education program for juvenile offenders. For nearly three months a group of CASA volunteers found themselves at the Youth Service Center (YSC) every Tuesday and Thursday morning. These volunteers started their day at YSC promptly at 8:00am, before many professional, clients, or visitors. The CASA volunteers were there not to visit a particular CASA youth, but as part of the “Keys to Success” support team.
Back in August of 2015, Project Change at College of San Mateo, which is the first community college program in California to provide comprehensive support services to former juvenile offenders, held an innovative pilot program with a simple, yet sincere aim: to give current incarcerated youth their first taste of college in order to demystify and make college attainable. The students came from our county’s juvenile detention facilities: YSC, Girls Camp, and Camp Glenwood. Although many of the students were either on the verge of earning or completing their high school requirements, most did not consider themselves to be on a college track. “Keys to Success” is a college credit class that covered college readiness skills such as studying, time management, math and English, and college culture. Our CASA volunteers helped the class instructor facilitate the class and while providing support to the students as needed. On any given day the volunteers found themselves analyzing, interpreting, and exploring core themes designed to help our students envision themselves on a college campus. Now, having just wrapped up the second installment of Keys to Success, we are here to thank, officially and publicly, our amazing CASA volunteers for their role and dedication. Thank you!