The mission of Mount Tamalpais College (previously Prison University Project) is to “provide an intellectually rigorous, inclusive Associate of Arts degree program and College Preparatory Program, free of charge, to people at San Quentin State Prison; to expand access to quality higher education for incarcerated people; and to foster the values of equity, civic engagement, independence of thought, and freedom of expression.” 512 students took at least one course in the College Program in 2019 and 12 students graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies.
Since we last featured them in Q4 2012, Mount Tamalpais became a Candidate for Accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges. Their new name is a reference to the mountain that stands just outside the prison —a powerful symbol of hope and strength that connects members of their community, both inside and outside of San Quentin.
Mount Tamalpais has completely pivoted to COVID-19 relief for the entire San Quentin community and other area prisons, where their students make up 10% of the population. Their students are among the most vulnerable and hardest-hit communities when it comes to COVID-19, and San Quentin itself is a COVID-19 hotspot — as are many prisons. In June, there were 2,200 confirmed cases of the virus among the incarcerated population at San Quentin (approximately 75% of the total population) and — as of August — there have been 25 deaths including two Mount Tamalpais students. As a result all nonessential programs, including college courses, have been cancelled. The support provided by Mount Tamalpais includes relief packages for the incarcerated people consisting of food, soap, and PPE, as well as installing mobile showers complete with donated shampoo and soap for staff.
FBB shares Mount Tamalpais College’s commitment to improving access to education and supporting the rights of incarcerated people, and we are happy to contribute to the empowerment of their students.