Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $530,000)
The Close Rikers Island Commission values the inclusion of credible messenger mentors that connect with and motivate the most challenging young people who may be connected by coming from the same communities or being formerly incarcerated or justice-involved. Credible messengers have turned their lives around, demonstrated integrity and transformation, and are skilled and trained in mentoring young people. The Commission’s Youth Subcommittee recommendation under Issue 4 is a call for The City (New York) to adequately resource credible messenger programs who can face many barriers in accessing funding but are highly effective change agents in their communities Recommendation #5.
In order to help break the cycle of marginalization and justice system involvement for the 13th Congressional District’s young people; and to address the long-term impacts on young people of color, sustained investment in the most impacted communities is required. Such an investment should focus on the recruitment, development, and empowerment of Credible Messengers - indigenous natural leaders who have successfully navigated their own prior involvement in the justice system, share similar life experiences with current justice-involved young people, and are poised to have a transformative impact on an individual, family, community and systemic level. As community-rooted natural leaders are equipped with greater resources, training, support, and opportunities to participate in the administration of youth justice, youth, families, and communities will experience significant reductions in recidivism, profound increases in positive life outcomes, and sustainable increases in public safety & wellness. Credible Messengers are those natural leaders.
The Credible Messenger Mentoring Movement (CM3) in partnership with Grow Up Grow Out proposes to assist the Washington Heights community with implementing the Washington Heights Credible Messenger Mentoring Initiative (WHCM3) designed to achieve transformative impact on justice-involved young people, their families, and the local justice processes. During the 18-month program period CM3 assistance will include training, hands-on support, technical assistance, and consultation to key community-based partners organizations. The eight total Credible Messenger Mentors will serve up to 64 youth involved in violence and/or the justice system in a Credible Messenger Mentoring process that focuses on the core domains of violence prevention, positive youth development, restorative justice practices, behavioral health and wellness, lifepath planning, and accessing various support services. Included among the anticipated outcomes are mediation & violence prevention, recidivism reduction, development of pro-social life skills, and attainment of educational/vocational goals that lead to viable pathways for positive life outcomes.