Two very different worlds have collided and you’ll never believe how!
California’s Soledad State Prison and an elite private school, Palma School, have joined forces — through their love for reading.
According to CNN, the prep school for boys in Salina, California created a partnership with the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) at the prison which includes a reading group for both the high school students and the inmates. This has allowed the two groups to merge not only to share their love for reading but to develop and learn a greater understanding of each other.
Now, the reading group has soared to new heights. After a Palma student was unable to pay the $1,200 monthly tuition after having not one, but two parents suffer a medical emergency, the inmates stepped up to help.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” shared Jim Michelleti, the English and Theology teacher behind the reading program. “They said, ‘We value you guys coming in. We’d like to do something for your school… can you find us a student on campus who needs some money to attend Palma?'”
Known as the “brothers in blue” through the program, the inmates have raised more than $30,000 right from inside the prison to create a scholarship for student, Syon Green.
Not only did the gift help him graduate this year, but also attend college at The Academy of Art University in San Franciso.
“Regardless of poor choices that people make, most people want to take part in something good,” says former inmate Jason Bryant, who’s played a huge role in launching the scholarship. “Guys were eager to do it.”
Although the brothers in blue didn’t hand-select who received their scholarship, they say Green was the perfect candidate.
After six months at Palma School, Green’s parents ran into financial issues despite financial aid. It was when his father, Frank Green, became unable to work after the need for heart surgery that they really began to be on the edge of not being able to afford his tuition any longer.
It was perfect timing when they found out that they’d be receiving the generous gift from the correctional facility.
“It brought me to tears,” expressed Frank Green. “At this particular time, it was truly a blessing. It was unheard of.”
From there, Green and his family would make regular visits to the prison building relationships so close with the brothers in blue that four former inmates even attended his graduation from Palma.
Now, Green tells CNN that he plans to continue his visits during his college breaks where he is currently studying sports broadcasting and plays basketball.