Our History

In 1952, John Kieth Irwin (1929-2010) robbed a gas station and served a five-year prison term for armed robbery, mostly at Soledad Prison in Salinas Valley. In prison he earned 24 college credits through a university extension program. After his release from prison, Irwin earned a B.A. from UCLA, a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and then served as a Professor of Sociology and Criminology at San Francisco State University for 27 years, during which he became known internationally as an expert on the U.S. prison system.

In 1967, Irwin founded Project Rebound, a program aimed to matriculate people into San Francisco State University directly from the criminal justice system. Since the program’s inception, hundreds of formerly incarcerated people have obtained bachelor’s degrees and beyond.

Irwin also co-founded the Prisoners Union in 1971, which organized inmates to push for their civil rights and worked closely with the California legislature on the Uniform Sentencing Act passed in 1976. At a panel presentation at the American Society of Criminology’s annual conference in 1997, Irwin helped officially establish the Convict Criminology movement, in which convicts who became professors critically examine the criminal justice system. In 1985 he received the August Vollmer award from the American Society of Criminology

In 2016, with the support of the Opportunity Institute and the CSU Chancellor Timothy White, Project Rebound expanded beyond San Francisco State into a consortium of nine CSU campus programs. The CSU Project Rebound Consortium is now a state- and grant-funded network of programs operating at fifteen CSU campuses in BakersfieldFresnoFullertonHumboldtLong BeachLos AngelesNorthridgePomonaSacramentoSan BernardinoEast BaySan Diego, San FranciscoSan Marcos, and Stanislaus


The Beginnings at Cal Poly Humboldt


When Tony Wallin transferred to Humboldt in Fall 2018, he sought out resources for formerly incarcerated students but found none that existed. As a journalist, initially writing a story for the Lumberjack to spread awareness to enact change, he quickly found himself building a system of resources and support as he was also a formerly incarcerated student. With the encouragement from Humboldt’s associate Director of Admissions, Steven Ladwig, and Sociology Department Chair, Dr. Renee Byrd, Tony began the first Formerly Incarcerated Students Club (FISC) at Humboldt. 

In the beginning of Summer, 2019, Tony met Franklin Porter, a political science major and organizer. Franklin was looking for ways to get involved with the criminal justice system and policy making. Franklin's involvment in FISC pushed the club forward and allowed it to gain traction on campus. Tony and Franklin reached out to Jason Bell, Executive Director of San Francisco Project Rebound, to begin the process of joining the Project Rebound family. 

In Fall, 2019, Kimberly Nguyen and Jazmin Delgado joined the club and brought indispensable organization, knowledge, and energy. The club began tackling the checklist items, such as identifying stakeholders within the university and community, and other items, required in order for Humboldt to become a Project Rebound campus.

In Spring, 2020, FISC held their first Reentry Forum: Let’s Talk About Mass Incarceration. A weeklong event, with two events a day, to raise awareness on mass incarceration and the struggle for formerly incarcerated persons. The event brought in notable figures from the criminal justice world such as Yurok Chief Justice Abby Abinanti, Root and Rebound, Prison Focus, and Jimmy Santiago Baca.  

During the Summer of 2020, FISC began a series of interviews with the Project Rebound Consortium to make Humboldt a member of the Consortium. Tony, Jazmin, Kimberly, and Kory Lamberts worked tirelessly over the break outreaching, building and maintaining partnerships within the university and community.

As of October 1st, 2020, Cal Poly Humboldt is now an official Project Rebound campus.

The Humboldt Project Rebound Logo was inspired by Pelican Bay Scholars student Anthony Mancera. Anthony, a gifted and talented artist, corresponded with Tony to generate ideas on what they were looking for to represent the formerly incarcerated student experience in higher education. Anthony has since earned his AA degree and has a seat waiting for him in the Project Rebound family.