News Release

For Immediate Release


Court Scholarship Program awards scholarships to five rehabilitated criminal offenders.

Court Scholarship Program 2011

Bill Gagen, Mike Markowitz, and Amanda Bevins of the Danville law firm Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Raines with Court Scholarship Award recipient Keneithia R. (center). Half of Keneithia's scholarship is provided by the Gagen McCoy law firm.

MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA, August 31, 2011 — A promising young college student who didn't want to be a financial burden on his parents and was seduced by an offer to buy counterfeit bills for ten cents on the dollar. A young women who self-medicated and became an addict because she was unaware and uninformed about her mental disability. A teenage mother who became homeless and started selling drugs to support herself and her four-month-old son.

What do they have in common? They all share the opportunity of a second chance and the desire to apply their experiences and educational trajectories towards helping others, especially youth who struggle with the same challenges they faced. Each one of them is also part of the 2011 group of Court Scholarship recipients.

The Contra Costa County Court Scholarship program was established in the early 1990's by the local Bench and Bar. The purpose of the program is to provide much-needed financial assistance to people who have previously come before the criminal justice system and have set new goals to stay out of the system in the future. Individual scholarships are granted to pay for tuition, books, childcare and other expenses related to their continuing education.

Scholarship Awards are generously provided by the Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Raines law firm, which has participated as an annual awards sponsor for over a decade, the Tom Oehrlein Award in memory of a former public defender, Sheriff's Charities Inc., and by individual contributions and proceeds from fundraising events.

This year's five recipients are:

Keneithia R., who is working towards her degree in Health and Human Services. Keneithia strives to become a social services case manager and, in her own words, 'a powerful tool for social change and betterment in the lives of young girls and women.'

Markesia H., who is working towards her certification as an Alcoholism and other Drug Addiction Specialist (CAS). Markesia is especially interested in multi-cultural studies and the role of culture in recovery. She is also actively involved in outreach, speaking openly about her life as an addict and ex-felon in panel discussions and media interviews.

Darrell J., who is working towards a degree in graphic arts. Like many scholarship recipients, Darrell attributes much of his success to Kenneth Reynolds, Outreach Coordinator at Contra Costa College, who provides ongoing support and encouragement. Darrell hopes to start his own graphic design company one day.

David M., a newly-wed and new father who is working towards a degree in Mass Media Communication. David is also an accomplished poet who has been involved with Youth Speaks and has spoken at various venues, including the Air Lounge in Oakland. He has also worked as a tutor at West Oakland Middle School and hopes to work as an educator after he completes his degree.

Derrick J., who is earning his certification in auto collision repair at Contra Costa College. The scholarship will help him purchase the supplies and tools necessary for his program. Derrick is also an active volunteer at the Salvation Army in Antioch, where his duties include stocking shelves, delivering meals, and mentoring.

The Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering support in matters of the law, the legal community and the judicial system. Trusted since 1934, the CCCBA serves thousands of legal professionals and members of the community each year.

Contact Theresa Hurley
(925) 370-2548

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