Bay Area Student Receives Scholarship Award from the State’s Prison Inmates

Recently, prisoners detained in California pitched in their prison labor savings to grant a scholarship to a Bay Area student set to attend college as a freshman this year. The unexpected source of financial assistance helped 19-year-old Syon Green get enrolled in San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. 

The scholarship opportunity came true after Green participated as a volunteer at Palma High School’s Prison Ministry Program during his time there as a sophomore. Green met Jason Bryant, one of the inmates residing in the Soledad Correctional Facility. During Green’s and Bryant’s interactions, the detainee learned of Green’s financial struggles in paying his tuition fees for the Catholic high school he attended at the time. Bryant, who remains at the prison establishment to live his 20th-year jail sentence, has decided to fund Green’s school expenses by setting aside money that he earns from doing prison work.

Bryant’s and Gray’s Collaborative Efforts of Reaching the $30,000 Scholarship Goal for Green

Bryant expressed his willingness to help the 19-year-old teenager continue his education despite the young boy’s socioeconomic status. To do so, Bryant convinced his fellow inmates to participate in the fund-raising event. For three straight years, Bryant and other detainees set to achieve a fixed goal of reaching $30,000 attained from their earnings as they do prison labor that pays each of them 8-cents an hour.

Due to the unexpected yet outstanding act, California Governor Gavin Newsom lessened the jail sentences of Bryant and his co-defendant Ted Gray for granting a scholarship to one of the Bay Area’s financially struggling students. Through Bryant and Gray’s collaborative efforts in the endowment, Syon Green is the very first recipient of such reimbursement. According to Bryant, Syon is the first of many students who could get financial assistant via the prison inmates’ created funding program. 

Syon Green’s Financial Insecurities and Prison Ministry Program Experiences

The recipient of the scholarship, Syon Green, currently attends the Academy of the Art University in San Francisco as a first-year. The 19-year-old teenager aspires to become a sports announcer one day after he graduates from college. Syon expressed his gratitude toward Bryant and other inmates for the opportunity they have given to a less fortunate student like him. According to Syon, he hopes to see the prison system build more endowment opportunities to support others needing financial assistance.

The prison inmates who met Green as a volunteer for his high school’s ministry program saw how hard-working and proper the teenager was despite living an impoverished life with his family. At the time, Green’s parents grapple with spending the family budget to pay for their only child’s school tuition fee amounting to a yearly $10,000 in total. Moreover, Green’s father has to quit his job as a chauffeur to get immediate heart surgery, while his mother ended her career as a health worker after she suffered an eye injury. Due to the unfortunate circumstances, paying for Green’s school fees proves almost impossible to accomplish.

Suddenly, Green’s parents got called to a school meeting with the principal. Much to their shock, the superintendent informed Green’s parents that a group of Soledad State Prison has offered to grant the 19-year-old a $32,000-worth scholarship to pay for his remaining high school fees up to his college education.

The proponents of the grant, namely Bryant and Gray, reached out to Palma High School and requested to extend financial aid towards Green. According to one of the school’s teachers, they too got shocked by the proposal and could not believe it the first time. 

As of late, Syon currently attends the Academy of Art University and has expressed his intent to reconnect with prison inmates Bryant and Gray, who gave him the scholarship award and whom he acknowledges as big brothers. Meanwhile, both detainees got their jail sentences lessened by Governor Gavin earlier this year. Due to the reduction, Bryant and Gray finally got released from prison last March.