Vera Awards Funding for Program Aimed at Boosting Success in Young people Involved with the Justice System

Vera Awards Funding for Program Aimed at Boosting Success in Young People Involved with the Justice System
Comprehensive approach aims at ensuring long-term employment and educational success 

NEW YORK, NY — Educational success and workforce training can help turn around the lives of young people who are at risk of juvenile justice system involvement, or who are already in the system. Youth Futures, a multi-state initiative, aims to provide these young people with the skills and supports they need to avoid system involvement and achieve long-term success. Youth Futures is funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and implemented by the Vera Institute of Justice,

Following a competitive process held last fall, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice announced today that it has selected one nonprofit organization in each of the three cities where Youth Futures operates, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. The organizations selected will serve young people ages 14 and older who are, or have in the last 12 months been, involved in the juvenile justice system.

By some estimates, more than half of young people in juvenile detention have not completed the eighth grade, and two-thirds of those leaving formal custody do not return to school. While the project focuses on system-involved youth, 10 percent of those served may be at-risk of offending, based on low school performance or engagement.

The grant awardees are:

  • Chicago (serving 365 young people) – The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership oversees federal, public, and private funding for workforce development programs designed to assist those looking for work and those looking to hire.
  • Los Angeles (serving 365 young people) – The Coalition for Responsible Community Development works with community members and organizations, local leaders, and businesses to improve the quality of life of young people in the Vernon-Central neighborhood of Los Angeles.
  • New Orleans (serving 170 young people) – The Youth Empowerment Project provides local youth with an array of services, including intensive case management, career services, and education programs.
“These young people are facing educational and employment barriers that would be nearly insurmountable without the guidance and support of these organizations,” said Annie Salsich, Director of Vera’s Center on Youth Justice. “At a time when the vast majority of careers require at least a high school diploma or equivalent and some postsecondary training, Youth Futures can teach them how to thrive in a professional environment, avoid the justice system, and live happy, healthy, and successful lives.”

The program will draw on promising practices from the field and incorporate seven elements, which local grantees can tailor to their communities’ needs. These include: workforce development, including internships and job placements; individualized and accelerated education and training pathways; comprehensive, intense case management; one-on-one and small group mentoring; service learning projects that help youth reflect on their past behavior and promote competency development; community collaborations aimed at reducing crime and violence; and post-program support and follow up for nine months after completion.

The programs in each site launched in January 2014 and will run through December 2015. Programs will also provide nine months of follow up support to program participants, extending through September 2016. Throughout the grant period, Vera will provide monitoring and oversight, ongoing technical assistance, coaching, and support.