Help to protect New York City's court-involved and at-risk youth from incarceration.  image

Help to protect New York City's court-involved and at-risk youth from incarceration.

Your support redirects them to supportive services to help them build successful lives. #ServicesNotCells #JobsNotJails

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“AFJ has been a very good support system to my family and me. AFJ made sure we all had food and supplies especially when there was barely anything in the store. . I really appreciate the help especially during this pandemic.” – Maya, Avenues for Justice participant

For more than 40 years, Avenues for Justice (AFJ) has supported youth in New York City, keeping them out of prison through our ongoing court advocacy and our wraparound HIRE UP programs for training, education, and mental health fitness. At a time when various criminal justice reforms are being debated, Avenues for Justice's model has for decades achieved some of the lowest recidivism rates in the country.

While 75% of youth who are incarcerated are typically reconvicted of new crimes three years post release, only 6% of AFJ Participants were reconvicted of a new crime within three years of enrolling in our program because we equip our Participants with the tools to succeed academically and attain employment. And while New York State pays close to $900,000 to house each young person in the state’s juvenile facilities, it costs just $6,300 to provide a Participant with a full year of services at Avenues for Justice, with vastly better results in turning their lives around.

What we do: Currently we serve up to 400 youth per year across New York City, ages 13 - 14. Most are court-involved, with Avenues for Justice providing our Participants and the criminal justice system an alternative to incarceration or a supportive landing for those leaving incarceration. We also have an open-door policy, welcoming any youth who is at risk of involvement in the criminal justice system.

Our services include:

  1. On-going court advocacy: We continue to advocate until a successful outcome is reached.
  2. HIRE UP online and onsite programs for:
  • Digital Literacy and OSHA construction safety skills with certification
  • Job Readiness, Financial Literacy, and Career Panels led by corporations
  • Legal Rights & Responsibilities to help Participants understand their own cases and avoid future arrests
  • 5-tiers of Mental Health support from introductory workshops to rapid access to individual counseling
  • Education support with tutoring
  • Mentoring for Participants and their families available 24/7

To continue this work, we need your help. A gift to AFJ helps us change lives and provide second chances. Elsie is just one example of the difference our program can make. Elsie faced many challenges while growing up, including family incarceration and addiction. She was left to fend for herself as a teen and started selling drugs at the age of 13. By 16, she was arrested numerous times for selling drugs and she also found out she was pregnant. Fortunately, Avenues for Justice intervened and she was mandated to our services instead of being sent to state prison. Her AFJ Court Advocate, Nelson Valentine, proved that people in this world cared about what she did with her life and he gave her a long list of requirements---including curfew. Backed by AFJ’s guidance and support, Elsie earned her high school diploma while juggling a job, raising a baby and participating daily in workshops at the Lower East Side community center. In 2020, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Elsie has been a Court Advocate for AFJ for 12 years. You can hear Elsie’s story in her own words here.

Your gift makes a real on our youth and our City.