Mount Tamalpais College

aka Mount Tamalpais College   |   San Quentin, CA   |  https://www.mttamcollege.org/

Mission

The mission of Mount Tamalpais College 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.

Ruling year info

2006

Executive Director

Jody Lewen Ph.D.

Main address

PO Box 492

San Quentin, CA 94964 USA

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Formerly known as

Prison University Project

EIN

20-5606926

NTEE code info

University or Technological (B43)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In California, at any given time, approximately 135,000 people are incarcerated in 35 state prisons. Roughly half of those individuals are functionally illiterate, yet the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) provides only extremely limited adult basic education classes, and for only a small percentage of the population. Many of those thousands of individuals inside the system who want and need an education face a complex array of academic, psychological, and social obstacles to learning which the CDCR is unequipped to address. The demand for higher educational opportunity is also vast. While several California Community Colleges offer classes inside, most are either distance learning programs, vocational training classes, or fledging on-site academic programs. Most do not offer developmental math and writing classes, in spite of evidence that many people within the system lack the basic skills to be successful in a rigorous higher ed setting.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The College at San Quentin

Mount Tamalpais College’s overarching goal for the College is to set a world-class example of a radically inclusive, academically rigorous, student-centered liberal arts college that happens to be located within a prison. Each semester, we provide 20 college courses in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science, as well as intensive college preparatory courses in math and writing, to over 350 people at San Quentin. We continually work to strengthen our capacity to address the range of complex challenges faced by students, and to demonstrate what is achievable in the realm of educational inclusivity.

Since its founding, the College has been driven entirely by volunteer instructors. Most are faculty or graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford, San Francisco State University, the University of San Francisco, and other Bay Area colleges and universities. We charge no fees or tuition; the sole requirement for admission is a high school diploma or GED. Students are not screened based on age, length of sentence, commitment offense, time left to serve, or any other similar criteria.

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people

Where we work

Accreditations

Candidate--Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges 2020

Awards

Bay Area Impact Challenge 2020

Google.org

California Nonprofit of the Year Award 2021

California Nonprofits

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Mount Tamalpais College has set the following strategic goals for the next three to five years:

Goal 1. Expand and improve the college at San Quentin

Goal 2. Provide technical assistance to expand in-prison higher education in California

Goal 3. Educate the public to build a movement and inform change

Goal 4. Conduct rigorous research and evaluation to generate data and support continuous improvement

Goal 5. Strengthen the organizational capacity of Mount Tamalpais College

Goal 1
> Build out course offerings, support services, and faculty training
> Build out alumni support services and leadership development programs
> Become a fully independent, accredited academic institution

Goal 2
> Create toolkits and training procedures for practitioners
> Offer several multi-day trainings per year to practitioners from California and beyond
> Provide intensive, customized, and hands-on support to select programs
> Establish statewide and regional networks of practitioners and other stakeholders

Goal 3
> Engage the field and public
> Share stories of impact
> Build communications capacity

Goal 4
Programs in prison are traditionally evaluated from a correctional perspective—in terms of fiscal impact, recidivism, and public safety—we seek to evaluate the impact of our programs on the well-being of students themselves.

Goal 5
We plan to grow sustainably in the following areas:
> Staff
> Board
> infrastructure
> Strategic ability

The College at San Quentin provides 20 college courses each semester in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science, as well as intensive college preparatory courses in math and writing, leading to an Associates of Arts degree and/or coursework necessary to transfer to any California State University or University of California campus. The sole requirement for participation is a high school diploma or GED. No student is excluded from the program based on age, length of sentence, commitment offense, of time left to serve.

The core values of Mount Tamalpais College are reflected in its commitment to providing high quality, liberal arts, face-to-face education. The time spent regularly engaging with instructors and classmates in the classroom is key to the psychologically and socially transformative nature of Mount Tamalpais College's programs, which allows students to build the social capital that will serve them powerfully both pre- and post-release.

Since its founding as the Prison University Project in 1996, the College at San Quentin has been the site of a unique and unprecedented educational enterprise, driven entirely by volunteer instructors, private funds, and a deep commitment to meeting students "where they are," both geographically and educationally. More than 4,000 students have participated in the program since its founding, and more than 200 students have received the Associate of Arts degree.

In September 2016, the Prison University Project was awarded the 2015 National Humanities Medal by President Obama. Our public profile is steadily increasing as the national movement for criminal justice reform is converging with political and philanthropic interest in the field of prison higher education.

In 2018, we learned that Patten University, under which we had operated as an extension site since our founding, was permanently closing. This news motivated us to pursue a long held dream of becoming an independent, accredited two-year college. After two years of planning and capacity building, we were awarded Candidacy for Accreditation with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) in January 2020. We anticipate our review for Initial Accreditation in fall 2021.

In September 2020, we changed our name from the Prison University Project to Mount Tamalpais College. We are now presented with an extraordinary opportunity to broaden our reach and expand our impact at San Quentin, across California, and nationally.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

Mount Tamalpais College
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Mount Tamalpais College

Board of directors
as of 7/19/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Maddy Russell-Shapiro

Maddy Russell-Shapiro

Patrice Berry

James Dyett

Jeff Feinman

Lilly Fu

Sia Henry

Elana Leoni

Connie Krosney

Theresa Roeder

Aly Tamboura

Kathy Richards

Will Bondurant

Larry Norton

Haley Pollack

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 06/24/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability