Leaders to Share How Their Work Reforms Systems that Disproportionately Harm Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ Young People
A virtual presentation will highlight how restorative practices, gang-involved individuals, and innovative readiness programs are disrupting youth incarceration and reforming systems that disproportionately harm Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ young people.

The presenters are four social justice leaders and activists — Founding Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) Fania Davis, PhD, Boston Uncornered Co-Founder and President Michelle Caldeira, RJOY Restorative Justice in Queer Communities program practitioner Bijon Barnes, and youth restorative justice activist Tyreece Sherrill, who knows firsthand the impact and inequities of the school-to-prison pipeline and youth incarceration.

The web event, Oct. 22, from noon to 1:30 pm ET, is the second of a three-part series, On the Road to Unlocked!: Investing in Our Children and Communities, which focuses on what communities can do to create a robust system of care that supports, nurtures, and best serves youth and their families while keeping communities safe. The Unlocked! Series is sponsored by the Social Justice Initiative of Bryn Mawr College (SJI), Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., an alternative to youth incarceration and out-of-home placements, and the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA).
SJI Founder and NHSA Board Vice Chair Darlyne Bailey, PhD, will moderate the discussion, which will include an opportunity for panelists to answer webinar participants’ questions.

About the Presenters:
Fania Davis, PhD
RJOY Founding Director and National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRJ) Co-Founding Board Member Fania Davis, PhD, is a noted social justice activist, civil rights trial attorney, writer, and educator.
Michelle Caldeira
Co-Founder and President of Boston Uncornered Michelle Caldeira leads a team of practitioners who engage and support active and former gang-involved individuals to end violence and create positive community change through the power of education, connection, and opportunity.
Bijon Barnes
In addition to his roles as RJOY Communications Associate and Apprenticeship Manager, Bijon Barnes is a Restorative Justice in Queer Communities program practitioner.
Tyreece Sherrill
Impacted personally by the school-to-prison pipeline, Tyreece Sherrill leads statewide campaigns to increase funding for alternatives to youth incarceration and has brought support and healing to others through his work with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin and RJOY.
The virtual series is a precursor to the YAP and SJI in-person national Unlocked! conference scheduled for April 2021 in Philadelphia.

Note: The virtual series is co-sponsored by Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR) for a maximum of 1.5 credit hours. Bryn Mawr College GSSWSR, as a CSWE accredited School of Social Work, is a pre-approved provider of continuing education for Social Workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists in Pennsylvania and many other states. 
Testimony Highlights How Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Serves as an Alternative to Youth Incarceration
YAP Regional Director Randall Sims recently testified before the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force. Governor Tom Wolf, State Supreme Court Justice Thomas G. Saylor, and General Assembly leaders from both parties and houses established the Task Force in Dec. 2019, charging its members with providing data-informed findings and recommendations by March 31, 2021. The Task Force receives technical assistance from Pew Charitable Trusts and the Crime and Justice Institute.

Here’s an excerpt from Sims’ five-minute testimony:
We apply the evidence-based YAP youth justice model in our post-placement services, detention diversion, and gun violence prevention programs like Choose to Change, our partnership with Children’s Home & Aid in Chicago. The University of Chicago Crime Lab found the program reduces violent crime arrests among participants by 48 percent. We also use the YAP youth justice model for family reunification and as an alternative to out-of-home placement of young people in group homes, treatment centers and developmental disabilities and autism care facilities. YAP is filling service gaps for young people aging out of foster care, LGBTQ youth, commercially sexually exploited children, and young people impacted by substance use. We’re also using the model as the foundation for adult re-entry services and crime prevention programs where we are able to employ returning citizens.

Empowered with Life Skills, Chris Supports Himself and Others through the Pandemic
With the increased risk of COVID-19 infections for individuals in congregate living, YAP has strengthened its advocacy for community-based youth and family services alternatives.

YAP’s individualized service plans might include intensive mentoring from neighborhood-based Advocates, education and job training, behavioral health care, and assistance with basic needs. Lebanon, PA YAP’s services for young people with developmental disabilities have empowered 32-year-old Chris with skills to support himself, and in turn, serve others through the pandemic.

YAP in the News
As YAP advocated to restore funding for its programs impacted by COVID-19 related budget cuts, NPR/WNYC reporter Matt Katz went on a fishing trip with YAP Advocate Samuel Barber and 12-year-old Jashsaun for a story about what the program means to youth and families.
In this op-ed, YAP CEO Jeff Fleischer advocated on behalf of program participants and their families and the NJ YAP teams serving them.
(Update: $3 million of the $9.5 million cut from Family Support Services, the area that funds NJ YAP programs impacted by COVID-19-related budget cuts, was restored to the state’s budget. The state’s Department of Children and Families commissioner will issue Requests for Proposal to determine which providers will receive the $3 million.) 
YAP is discussed as part of the solution in this report about how kids can be saved from gun violence in Chicago.
Challenged with the pandemic, YAP’s programs are having success. YAP Chicago’s Choose to Change work is mentioned in a New York Times report about how COVID-19 has impacted crime reduction programs.
YAP Roanoke and New River Valley Counties Director Chante Smith did a brief radio interview about how YAP works to keep families together and kids out of institutional placements.
Through her art, 15-year-old Kiara, a participant in YAP’s Developmental Disabilities/Autism program, is expressing herself and advocating for others through her art.