News 10: Folsom Inmates Give Back to the Community

Folsom Prison inmates continued working to assemble 146,000 school supply kits for K to College, an Oakland-based non-profit which provides them free to low-income Bay Area and other California public school children.  Originally assembled by volunteers, the program began in January of 2009 with 300 kits and grew to 27,000 last spring.  When the program’s projected volume for this fall reached 146,000, the option of a volunteer assembly seemed unrealistic.

“We knew we had surpassed the capacity of a volunteer effort,” said K to College cofounder and Executive Director Benito Delgado-Olson.  “The total contract value of the combined purchased and in-kind product reached $10,000,000, enough to fill over 80 forty-foot port containers.  We needed a professional fulfillment solution, but had a limited budget.”

Senator Mark Desaulnier, who Chairs the State Administration, General Government and Judicial Subcommittee, worked to form the partnership between K to College and Folsom.  Senator Desaulnier volunteered at a K to College assembly event in his district in January of 2009.

“I saw an opportunity to help a program that provides over 30,000 of the underprivileged students in my district with nearly two million worth of school supplies,” said Desaulnier.  “It also provided an opportunity for inmates to give back to the community as a part of the rehabilitation process.”

Prison Warden Rick Hill echoed the Senator’s remarks, noting the rehabilitative and restorative justice components of the project.  K to College is additionally donating one school supply kit to each of the children of the 80 inmates working on the project.

The program is funded through a favorable partnership with Give Something Back Office Supplies and aid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund, part of the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act.

“This program is an excellent example of how the non-profit and for-profit sectors can collaborate to solve social problems,” said Mike Hannigan, President and cofounder of Give Something Back Office Supplies.  This collaboration enables K to College to produce one supply kit worth approximately $65 at a cost of only $22.  The two-to-one match of private donations made the program eligible for the ARRA grant.

The supply packages will contain items such as paper, pencils, erasers, folders, glue sticks, index cards, a dental hygiene kit and a tote bag.  The program is expected to expand to other areas in the fall of 2011.