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.

In 2021, only 6% of Participants were re-convicted of a new crime within three years of enrolling in our program, and only 10% within six years of enrollment. In contrast, over 75% of those who are incarcerated return to crime after release. And while New York City pays over $500,000 to incarcerate a single youth, it costs just $5,750 to give a youth a full year of services at Avenues for Justice, with vastly better results in turning their lives around, proving that #ServicesNotCells keep our youth and our communities far safer.

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. Elsie is just one example of the difference AFJ can make. Elsie faced many challenges while growing up, including family incarceration, and addiction. She was left to fend for herself as a young child and started selling drugs at age 13. By 16, she was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover detective. Two weeks after this arrest, she found out she was pregnant. Fortunately, Avenues for Justice intervened and she was mandated to our services instead of jail. Her AFJ youth worker, Nelson Valentine, proved that people in this world cared about what she did with her life and gave her a long list of requirements, including curfew. Backed by this guidance and support, Elsie earned her high school diploma while juggling a job plus daily participation in AFJ programs. In 2009, she received her Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the ASA Institute. She has now joined Avenues for Justice as a youth worker. You can hear from her in her own words here.

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