300 young people participate annually in the NYC Justice Corps.
Work readiness. Participating in Community Benefit Projects and internships, Corps Members experience—often for the first time—the requirements of the workplace. They build the skills necessary to succeed on the job, including teamwork, punctuality, and communication strategies. Many Corps Members complete federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification prior to beginning their service projects.
A new perspective on education. Many Corps Members come to appreciate the value of continuing their education while they work on service projects and experience internships. They realize they need more education and training before they can be placed in jobs. Corps Members who do not have a high school diploma or GED participate in education classes to build the literacy and numeracy skills needed for a high school equivalency. This is a short-term educational strategy designed to re-engage young adults in learning and to help them identify future educational and vocational pathways. In a seventeen-month period (July 2012 – September 2014), 142 Corps Members achieved an educational gain: 31 attained a GED, and 111 increased their math or literacy score on the TABE test by one or more grades. For those who have a high school diploma or GED, exploring higher education is a priority. College visits and assistance with applications and financial aid are available to Corps Members and alumni. In Fiscal Year 2013, seven Corps Members were enrolled in college.
Entry into the workforce. Every graduate of the NYC Justice Corps leaves the program with a resume and three references who can discuss a young person’s employment and personal qualifications. Job developers place program alumni in jobs and provide job retention services for up to six months. The top six sectors employing our alumni are food services, construction, food, retail, transportation/warehousing, and human services/nonprofit.
Error-free RAP sheets and other legal benefits. Thanks to legal services provided by program partner Youth Represent, 143 errors have been corrected in the official criminal histories of the NYC Justice Corps Members. Typically these are misrepresentations on rap sheets or items that appear on the rap sheet when they should have been sealed. These corrections reduce the barriers to employment and housing–and the criminal justice consequences– that young adults face as a result of rap sheet errors. Legal services have also helped Corps Members overcome barriers in applying for jobs, obtaining employment licenses, addressing housing eviction, and other matters.
Case summary: Youth Represent determined that two matters listed as misdemeanor convictions on the RAP sheet of one Bronx Justice Corps Member had in fact resulted in non-criminal violation convictions, which should have been sealed automatically. Because of this court error, any employer who ran a background check on the young adult would have seen two erroneous misdemeanor convictions; these errors also impacted the District Attorney’s plea offer to the young person in a more recent case. The errors on the RAP sheet have been corrected, and additional assistance is being provided in relation to the recent criminal matter.