Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $491,332)
The MENTOR Rhode Island Juvenile Justice Initiative is a public-private partnership between MENTOR RI, Rhode Island’s leading youth mentor agency and Rhode Island Family Court, the state’s juvenile justice agency. Through this partnership, youth who are involved in the justice system will be referred, as appropriate, to mentoring and community skill building activities. MENTOR RI will craft a suite of services for youth throughout the state of Rhode Island, consisting of one-to-one mentoring, community and life-skills workshops, and work readiness programs.
The project will serve 235 youth ages 12-17 over the course of the three-year grant period. The target population for this initiative will be:
Youth diverted to specialty courts, such as the Truancy Court,
400+ youth referred to local Juvenile Hearing Boards, and
500 youth on probation in RI, particularly the 35% of youth identified by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families as being low-risk.
These youth are racially and ethnically diverse, ranging in age from 12 - 17 years old, and predominantly male (62% male/38% female).
The project has four goals:
Provide youth who are juvenile justice involved with positive adult connections through mentoring, reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors.
Empower youth who are juvenile justice involved to build their relational competency and leadership skills.
Match 180 adult mentors, across diverse local communities to serve as advocates for and mentors of juvenile justice involved youth.
Enhance and expand public/private partnerships to increase diversion and improve racial equity in the juvenile justice system.
MENTOR RI with work with Family Court to leverage the mentoring services as part of the MENTOR RI Juvenile Justice Initiative as an approved diversion option for justice-involved youth. Additionally, MENTOR RI will develop referral programs with municipal Juvenile Hearing Boards to ensure that mentoring services can be used as a diversion program in that setting.
MENTOR RI will partner with community organizations – Youth in Action and Foster Forward – to design programming for the youth in the initiative including life-skills workshops. Program participants will be encouraged to lead the change in their community. In partnership with the Works Wonders program, eligible youth will be connected to work-readiness programming and mentors to support a move out of the justice system and into the workplace.
Success for the program will be measured as self-identified empowerment for positive life changes by program participants, leveraging MENTOR RI’s evidence-based mentoring survey tools.