Cultivating Dreams: Finalist for $25,000 Grant from Pepsi Refresh Project

By Catherine Schetina ‘14Guest Writer

The 5C student-run nonprofit organization Cultivating Dreams is hoping to win a $25,000 grant that would not only change the future of the club, but would improve the lives of hundreds of incarcerated women in California.

Cultivating Dreams founded and currently runs an organic garden in California Institute for Women—CIW—a women’s prison in Corona. In addition to weekly trips to work in the garden with the incarcerated women, the group provides educational workshops on a wide variety of topics that translate the lessons of the garden into skills that the women can use when they are released from prison. Not only does working in the garden provide the women with productive and enjoyable exercise, it also gives them access to fresh, healthy, organic produce that they would not be able to eat otherwise.

The women who work in the garden see this unique opportunity as invaluable. In fact, when asked why they participated in the garden project, one woman responded that the work “gave [her] some enjoyment in an otherwise bleak environment.” Another woman said the garden gives her “peace, hope [and] serenity,” while a third explained that gardening has “brought back memories of [her] childhood and makes [her] want to do better [when she is released]”.  In a time where budget shortages are forcing many rehabilitation and training programs out of prisons, Cultivating Dreams remains, making life in prison more bearable for the women of CIW and preparing them to reenter society.

However, in order to allow this essential program to continue running, the group needs funding. Cultivating Dreams managed to secure a spot in the highly competitive grant competition, Pepsi Refresh, for the chance to win $25,000, which would provide much needed funds. In order to win the grant, Cultivating Dreams is asking every student on campus, as well as anyone else who wants to take ten seconds to help this worthy organization, to vote everyday on www.refresheverything.com. Community members of Scripps and the rest of the Claremont Colleges can show their support for the club by voting once a day all throughout November for Cultivating Dreams on the Pepsi website.

By taking a few seconds each day to vote, you can help change the lives of incarcerated women. Voting for Cultivating Dreams will ensure that the women of CIW have a group concerned about their education, recreation and personal well-being for years to come.