Oct 3, 2013

Harlem Justice Corps Cohort Graduation

Graduate Addresses the Audience
Graduates & Their Life Coaches 
Last night the Justice Center's Harlem Justice Corps project celebrated its recent cohort graduation. The Harlem Justice Corps is part of a city-wide program developed by the NYC Young Male Initiative and John Jay College’s Prisoner Reentry Institute to provide a pathway to careers for justice-involved young adults ages 18 to 24. Four projects have been funded in high crime neighborhoods in New York City: Harlem, Jamaica, Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx. The Justice Corps model uses a six month three phase intensive engagement approach that emphasizes civic engagement, education, and employment training. This is followed by a six month aftercare phase where graduates receive on-going assistance in staying on track in school, credentialed job training, and in addressing their social service needs. Each Corps Member in the Harlem program is assigned a Life Coach when they start who works with them throughout the year. Corps Members are paid a stipend for the first six months.

 Last night’s graduating cohort included two students who got into college and one who had earned his general equivalency diploma. All graduates have secured employment in a field of their choosing or are in a credential training program that will lead to good paying jobs. One young man thanked the program for “giving him a second chance.” The keynote speaker, the Judge Ruben Martino, a Bronx born Puerto Rican who is a graduate of Yale and University of Pennsylvania Law School, talked about growing up in the Bronx and learning from the mistakes others as he made his life choices. He encouraged the graduates to learn from their own past and to pursue their dreams. The ceremony, which took place at John Jay College, was followed by a buffet meal. Family members, graduates, and community members, including members of the Corp’s Community Advisory Board, were all smiles.

 The city-wide Justice Corps effort is not only about reducing re-offending, it also seeks to tap the creativity of local communities to solve the problems that are contributing to crime and economic deprivation. Most importantly, Justice Corps seeks to support men and women who are justice involved in pursuing their dreams. The Corps is an example of the local innovations underway in New York City that are seeking to address mass incarceration and poverty.

The Harlem Justice Corps, a project of the Center for Court Innovation's Harlem Community Justice Center, partners with the Center for Employment Opportunities, Literacy Partners and the College Initiative