Youth Justice Network

New York, NY   |  http://www.youthjustice.org

Mission

Our mission is to break cycles of incarceration and build an equitable justice system by providing young people with individualized advocacy, mentorship, and opportunities to grow, thrive, and lead. We fight for every young person to realize their power, voice, and full potential. We promote change not only in individual youth members, but in the racist systems that led to their incarceration. We commit to the day that not a single young person will spend another night in jail. We join the movement to dismantle racism and inequity in the justice system.

Ruling year info

1990

Executive Director

Ms. Christine Pahigian

Main address

63 West 125th Street 4th Floor

New York, NY 10027 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Friends of Island Academy

EIN

13-3576756

NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our fight for youth justice is our fight for racial justice. The justice system confines Black youth at over 4 times the rate of white youth. 95% of people on Rikers Island are people of color. Black and Latinx people are overrepresented in New York prisons and jails. People who have been incarcerated are 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public. A young person’s admission onto Rikers Island is an emergency and should be treated as such. Our goal is to ensure that young people who are incarcerated have support from the first moments in custody, continued support throughout their period of incarceration, and help to troubleshoot and navigate issues and ultimately thrive upon release.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Arches / Harlem

Arches is an alternative-to-Probation program that uses group and one-on-one mentoring to help young people analyze their behavior and plan for success.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Incarcerated people

In an effort to break intergenerational cycles of incarceration, Friends provides fatherhood classes, domestic violence interventions, and much more to non-custodial fathers in the Bronx.

Population(s) Served
Caregivers
Incarcerated people

Through funds from the New York City Department of Probation, Friends gives advice to families of young people undergoing delinquency procedures in Manhattan Family Court.

Population(s) Served
Caregivers
Parents

The Makeba Project is a mentoring and advocacy program for young mothers returning home from Rikers Island. Recognizing the distinct situation of women (and specifically mothers) in the justice system, The Makeba Project builds on our organization’s well-established model of youth engagement and advocacy to provide specifically tailored supports and services that respond to the unique needs of this population.

Population(s) Served
Caregivers
Incarcerated people

The Miller Center is made up of a team of Mitigation Specialists who provide City-wide case triage and expediting, reintegration planning, and defender-based courtroom advocacy on behalf of youth 16-21 years of age. We develop individualized plans for each youth focused on minimizing length of stay in jail and reducing the likelihood of readmission.

Our advocacy is always tailored to the individual’s circumstances at all phases of the justice system process. We work with young people in custody of either local correction, New York State facilities or federal custody.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Incarcerated people

The Career Services Center is designed to equip justice-involved and formally incarcerated young people with the skills they need to thrive in the work place. With a focus on learning soft skills for entering into a professional world, the Career Services Center aims to increase the likelihood of sustained pathways to economic independence among the youngest people released from jail.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Incarcerated people

Friends runs an HSE class that is open to justice-involved youth between the ages of 17 and 24. Our class focuses on developing students’ skills in numeracy, reading comprehension, and writing, with the aim of preparing students to pass the TASC. Friends HSE students are also supported by a network of advocates and mentors from other youth programs at Friends. Special consideration is made for students with pending cases and students on probation, who are committed to redirecting the trajectory of their cases, and their lives, through the pursuit of education.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Incarcerated people

The Youth Reentry Network is a system of pre and post-release care for youth at Rikers Island and in DYFJ custody (primarily Horizon and Crossroads). Our model is centered on developing relationships of support and trust with young people in custody, and anchoring long-term neighborhood-based supports upon release. Our Youth Advocates work with young people from all five boroughs, anchored by our community hubs.

Population(s) Served
Young adults
Incarcerated people

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Youth Justice Network (formerly Friends of Island Academy) was founded in 1990 at an alternative high school on Rikers Island – known then as Island Academy – to address recidivism rates, untapped potential and disproportionate confinement of young people of color among the thousands of adolescents who attended school on Rikers Island each year. YJN begins its work with youth during their time in custody and supports them as they transition back to life outside confinement. The longer youth remain engaged with Youth Justice Network's community, the greater the influence we have on their trajectory toward becoming economically independent adults, connected to their communities in positive ways.

Our organization and its services are rooted in a passion for and belief in our individual youth members' resilience and ability to achieve. We are small and our services are intense, personal and flexible. Our approach to service delivery incorporates the key principles of evidence-based practice derived from the research on risk reduction and draws on what our field has learned over the last two decades. These include principles of positive youth development (giving youth a sense of belonging and opportunities to achieve), tailored services driven by risk/need assessments and recognition of adolescents' brain development and readiness for change. These aspects of our vision have neither changed nor wavered since our earliest years of operation.

Our model is structured on trusting relationships that drive positive outcomes forward. Whether we meet our participants in a jail, in court, or in the community, each participant has a Youth Advocate who facilitates their growth and development. Everyone we serve has someone they can count on.
We build relationships of trust, honesty, and respect. From the moment participants meet with a Advocate, we remain in their corner, with no start and end dates.
Our program hubs are peaceful, safe spaces where young people can learn to be themselves, access opportunities, and grow into healthy, independent, thriving community leaders.
Youth Justice Network also meets the needs of justice-involved youth through a variety of programs, united by the common “core" of Youth Advocacy, which provides wrap-around services, coaching, and mentoring to young people. In addition, we provide arts workshops; a High School Equivalency program; employment services and job placement; youth leadership (in which youth members are trained in social issues, activism, and public speaking); and programs such as ARCHES (a transformative mentoring program for young people on Probation). YJN also offers a fatherhood program to non-custodial fathers in the Bronx, in order to address inter-generational cycles of father absence, and a parent support program based in Manhattan Family Court.

Through our services and programs, we offer opportunities for young people to grow and thrive.
Each year, we serve 750+ young people whose lives have intersected with the city’s jail system are served; that's 17,000 total engagements with young people, for periods averaging over 20 months.
78% of youth sentenced have had their sentences reduced or have been released from jail as a direct result of our intensive mitigation and court advocacy.
Our Career Center has made 175 new job placements every year, and our career skills workshop has a 95% graduation rate.
100% of our Youth Mentor staff are YJN program alumni, uniquely positioned to lead and support their younger peers.
We've made 7,000 connections to holistic support each year: that means calling grandparents, sitting in court with siblings, waiting with aunts for the bus at Rikers — anything we can do to strengthen a young person’s support system.

Financials

Youth Justice Network
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Youth Justice Network

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jamaal Thomas

Yale University

Term: 2019 -

Neil Callahan

Pilot Growth Equity

Ellen Fried

Legal Consultant

Mark Rubin

Geller Advisors LLC

Jamaal Thomas

Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, Yale University

Lloyd Doaman

Harlem Entrepreneurial Fund

Marina Cohen

Rabobank, NY Branch

S. Rebecca Neusteter, Phd.D

University of Chicago Health Lab

Alexander Paddington

JPMorgan

Ann Siegel

American Museum of Natural History

Scott Simon

PJT Partners

Richard Wechsler

Lockard & Wechsler

Christine Pahigian

Executive Director, Friends of Island Academy

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/29/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data