NOCE Rising Scholars

*Empower *Support *Success

The mission of the Rising Scholars Program at North Orange Continuing Education (NOCE) is to support our formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted students through education.  

Our purpose is to foster a network of support for students as they transition into the college environment and to build strong pathways for the achievement of their academic and career goals. 

Services Include:

  • Specialized in academic and career counseling.
  • Assistance with college enrollment and services.
  • Credit-side transition preparation.
  • Participation in specialized workshops and events.
  • Resources for job readiness.
  • Basic needs referrals for housing, food, and technological needs.
  • Access to community resources and community partner referrals.

Program Eligibility

  • Identify as formerly incarcerated or impacted by the justice system.
  • Must be 18 years or older.

For questions, please e-mail

Workshops and Events

  • March 12, 2024 – Creating More Inclusive Hiring For Formerly Incarcerated People

    Tuesday, March 12, 2024, from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

    Creating More Inclusive Hiring For Formerly Incarcerated People

    Facilitator: Chelsea Esquibias
    Presenters: Dr. Nora Kenney and Christine Winterle

    Recommended Attendees: Colleges interested in hiring formerly incarcerated people, all practitioners, students, and HR college staff


    Palomar College’s Human Resources and Rising Scholars administrators will share how the college changed hiring practices and policies to encourage formerly incarcerated students and community members to become employees.

    Zoom Link:

  • April 4, 2024 – Student Empowerment Hour

    Thursday, April 4, 2024, from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

    Student Empowerment Hour

    Facilitator: Javier Rodriguez
    Recommended Attendees: Students


    Rising Scholars students are invited to attend a student success workshop. Topics discussed will be student leadership, confidence building, imposter syndrome, time management.

    Zoom Link:

  • April 19, 2024 – Strategies For Effective Communication And Partnership With Students

    Friday, April 19, 2024, from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

    Strategies For Effective Communication And Partnership With Students

    Facilitator: Chelsea Esquibias
    Presenters: Cynthia Murillo and Barbara Hammons

    Recommended Attendees: All Practitioners and Students


    Partnership with students is a key factor to ensure programs are built to meet student needs so they can reach their goals. In this workshop, participants will discuss the importance of listening attentively, with an open mind, and giving meaningful feedback.

    Zoom link:


  • Community Resources

    Project Kinship

    Project Kinship aims to provide services and training to lives impacted by incarceration, gangs, and violence in the community through hope, healing, and transformation. Services include both direct services and capacity training for system and community agencies. Project Kinship’s staff provides emotional support and advocacy as we assist individuals through the stages of change and transformation by providing early intervention, prevention, reentry support, and intervention, as well as assistance with system network care and service. A strong emphasis is centered on promoting system care access, individual and family-driven case management services, short-term individual and group counseling, and group educational/skills classes. Program participants are provided with support that helps to develop hope, healing, and transformation, which allows for the ownership of a meaningful and productive life.

    For more information, call: (714) 941-8009

    Or visit

    For a direct referral, please contact Rising Scholars staff:

    Orange County Public Defender’s Office – New Leaf Program

    The Orange County Public Defender “New Leaf Program” assists those who are seeking a fresh start and improved opportunities for employment, professional licensing, or consumer credit.

    If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you may be eligible for relief through a relatively simple legal process. Some convictions can be modified on your record so that when you apply for most jobs, you can legally indicate that you were not convicted of that crime. Other convictions may be reduced from felony to misdemeanor status in certain situations. Also, Orange County residents who have completed a term in prison may be eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. In addition, if you are a Veteran who acquired a criminal record due to a mental health disorder stemming from service in the United States military and you have successfully participated in court-ordered treatment and services to address the sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems stemming from military service, you may qualify for early termination of probation and ultimately a dismissal of the charges.

    For more information, call: (657) 251-6090

    Or visit

    For a direct referral, please contact Rising Scholars staff:

    Chrysalis Orange County

    Chrysalis serves people navigating barriers to the workforce by offering a job-readiness program, individualized supportive services, and paid transitional employment. They empower clients on their pathway to stability, security, and fulfillment in their work and lives.

    Their philosophy is that a steady job is a key step in a person’s transition out of poverty and onto a pathway to self-sufficiency. Chrysalis’ core employment services are designed to meet clients where they are and support them during every phase of their self-directed job search. Since 1984, and with five centers across Los Angeles and Orange Counties, Chrysalis has served more than 77,000 individuals experiencing housing and financial instability, carrying out John Dillon’s vision of changing lives through jobs.

    For more information, call: (714) 204-3007

    Or visit

    For a direct referral in the local Anaheim area, please contact Rising Scholars staff:

    Human Works Foundation

    The Human Works Foundation has grown to be one of the most comprehensive community outreach, training, and development re-entry organizations, advocating relentlessly for those enduring barriers to employment. To address the needs of the growing justice-impacted community, they use the RISEUP program as a stepping stone to meaningful employment. Throughout cohorts, they have deeply connected with the social and cultural rejection of folks who are formerly incarcerated, former veterans, and experiencing chronic homelessness. In 2022, they launched a new project which recognizes the disparity and inequities in access to mental health care, resources, housing, and the need for those who identify as women to have gender-responsive, trauma-informed reentry care. The EMPOWER program is an integral piece of their wrap-around services, creating holistic care for those who are usually left behind.

    For more information, call: (949) 445-6856

    Or visit

    For a direct referral, please contact Rising Scholars staff:

    Department of Rehabilitation

    The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) administers the largest Vocational Rehabilitation Program in the country. With more than 85 locations throughout California, the DOR provides services to increase the quality and quantity of employment outcomes for people with a full range of physical and psychiatric disabilities.  Services are tailored to each person individually to ensure a greater chance for success. A vocational rehabilitation team works closely with each job seeker to establish the best combination of services and resources necessary to prepare for, find, and retain employment. Not all available services are needed by all consumers. DOR’s services include, but are not limited to:

    • Counseling and guidance
    • Referrals and assistance to get services from other agencies
    • Job search and placement assistance
    • Vocational and other training services
    • Evaluation of physical and mental impairments
    • On-the-job or personal assistance services
    • Interpreter services
    • Rehabilitation and orientation/mobility services for individuals who are deaf/hard of hearing and/or blind/low vision
    • Occupational licenses, tools, equipment, initial stocks, and supplies
    • Technical assistance for self-employment
    • Rehabilitation assistive technology services and devices
    • Supported employment services

    For more information, call: (714) 222-6448

    Or visit

    For a direct referral in the local Anaheim area, please contact Rising Scholars staff:

  • Additional Resources

    Additional community resources for housing, food, health, and other needs via the NOCE Community Resources webpage.

    **Please contact us for direct connections/referrals to any of these organizations. E-mail, and we will directly refer you to a trusted representative from the organization.

Student Spotlight

2023 High School Commencement Speaker Photo of Regina Alcala

Regina Alcala

NOCE High School Diploma and Rising Scholars Program

Regina Alcala has had her share of hard times – with experiences with drug addiction, homelessness, and incarceration, Alcala felt as if she had nothing going for herself. In a fortunate turn of events, Alcala found North Orange Continuing Education (NOCE) and enrolled in the High School Diploma Program. “Going to school allowed me to build confidence in myself,” proclaims Alcala. “I didn’t want to be a hypocrite and tell my children about going to school when I didn’t get my own high school diploma.” Alcala is now an active member of the NOCE Rising Scholars Program, which builds educational, transitional, and career pathways for formerly incarcerated and system-impacted individuals. Alcala will graduate with her high school diploma at the end of May 2023 – she was also recently chosen to be the Commencement Student Speaker! However, Alcala’s drive to pursue her education does not end with NOCE. Alcala is simultaneously working toward her associate degree in psychology at Cypress College while finishing her classes at NOCE. “Today, my confidence is higher than when I started. I know that I am capable and more determined than ever,” states Alcala.

Congratulations to Regina Alcala!

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