The History of Project Rebound


In 1952, John Irwin (1929-2010) robbed a gas station and served a five-year prison term for armed robbery in Soledad Prison. During his time 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 created Project Rebound as a way 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.

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 ConsortiumOpens in new window is now a state- and grant-funded network of programs operating at fourteen CSU campuses in Bakersfield, Fresno, Fullerton, Humboldt, Long Beach, Los AngelesOpens in new window , Northridge, Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San DiegoOpens in new window , and San FranciscoOpens in new window , San MarcosOpens in new window , and StanislausOpens in new window . Since 2016, Project Rebound students system-wide have earned an overall grade point average of 3.0, have a zero percent recidivism rate, and 87% of graduates have secured full-time employment or admission to postgraduate programs.

John Irwin, Ph.D.

John Irwin, Ph.D., Founder of Project Rebound

Founder of Project Rebound