Our Work

Performance-based Standards

Performance-based Standards is a data-driven continuous improvement process for juvenile justice facilities, community residential programs and reentry services to improve conditions and quality of life in our nation’s juvenile facilities. We offer research-based standards and performance measures that focus on making facilities safe, monitoring program effectiveness, achieving positive outcomes.

Training & Technical Assistance

We work with states, counties, tribes and communities to increase access to, effectiveness of and implementation of research-based practices.

Scholarships for Young People

The J. Russell "Russ" Jennings Scholarship awards $15,000 to support a young person over two years to cover the costs of tuition, books and supplies and the additional support of a mentor to help navigate the post-incarceration transition and healing.

Scholarships for Staff

Youth justice staff play a pivotal role in shaping the lives and experiences of young people involved in the justice system. They engage with them daily, serve as mentors and role models and create safe, nurturing relationships to build trust. We offer $2,000 scholarships to staff to recognize their dedication to young people and support their professional development.

Reentry Awards

Young people leaving youth justice facilities rarely have access to basic living necessities ― sheets, groceries, clothes to present themselves to employers or transportation. The Reentry Award aims to fill that gap by providing a $500 gift card to purchase the little things that help ease the transition to independent living.

Reentry App

When young people are released after living 24/7 in a secure facility or residential program, they need to find a safe and stable place to live, a job, a way to pay for and get food and avoid old habits. It's stressful, confusing and full of barriers that result in as many as seven out of 10 returning the facility. We are building a mobile application to help with that transition time - called reentry. It will put resources directly into their hands such as links to website for shelters and food pantries, job postings, child care and more. It will be available at the end of 2024.

Employment Matching

Justice-involved young people lack opportunities to gain the work experience needed to get meaningful jobs and advance their careers. They may have employment gaps on their resumes and little practice in developing job readiness skills such as customer service and meeting deadlines. The Employment Matching Award matches every dollar earned by incarcerated young people during the summer up to $1,000 to encourage young people to pursue employment and businesses and agencies to create and support meaningful work opportunities.

Database for Researchers

Research is needed to help improve our youth justice system outcomes. We provide our National Database for researchers to add to our current knowledge of what works to improve youth justice. It offers access to datasets of administrative and perception survey data from more than 300 juvenile justice correction, detention and assessment locations in all parts of the United States. Arguably the largest of its kind in the country, our Database can help academics, students and researchers answer questions about safety, order, security, health, behavioral health, substance use, education and reentry services, family engagement, perceptions of fairness and staff-youth relationships.

Kids Got Talent

When given the opportunity to showcase their talents, young people gain confidence and tap into their passions. The Kids Got Talent Contest celebrates creativity by inviting young people to submit recordings of songs, dance, spoken word, instrumental music, art and other types of performances. Winners are invited to perform live at the Annual Awards Night, travel and all expenses paid. Perhaps the first step to fame!

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