A group of inmates from the Soledad State Prison bonded with a high school student from an all-boys prep school in the area through their love of reading after attending the same book club. After the group learned the student was struggling to pay the leftover $1,200 balance for his monthly tuition, the men got together to fundraise and successfully garnered over $30,000.
Syon Green was surprised when he learned members from his reading group with the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Salina, California, presented him with a scholarship to help him finish high school education and begin his college pursuits at The Academy of Art University in San Franciso. Green’s family experienced difficulties after two medical emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It brought me to tears,” expressed Frank Green, Syon’s father, in an interview with CNN. “At this particular time, it was truly a blessing. It was unheard of.”
Jason Bryant, one of the incarcerated members who helped fundraiser for Green says many of the inmates related to his story of transition from a rough area into a new environment and the drive to pursue a good education. Bryant says he’s thankful for the program to be able to make a difference in their development by helping students learn from the mistakes of his youth.
“They would bring him into the prison to receive mentorship, to participate in groups with us, to share his goals and visions, and to really have accountability conversations with men in blue — men who had made terrible choices,” Bryant said to CNN. “They put in an incredible amount of not only gratitude and appreciation but also trust in us to help mentor their son. And that was remarkable.”