The Youth Justice Board is an after-school leadership development program that helps New York City teenagers study a public policy issue affecting young people.
Members are selected through a competitive process. Criteria for selection include interest in the topic, commitment to working on a long-term project, and willingness to work as part of a team. The board represents the diversity of New York City, and includes a wide range of skills and perspectives.
Members receive intensive training, beginning with a weekend retreat in upstate New York where members participate in team-building activities and start exploring the selected topic. Later training covers research methods, consensus building, listening and interviewing skills, public speaking, and an introduction to policy-making in New York City.
The Youth Justice Board conducts interviews and focus groups with a variety of stakeholders including public officials, professionals in the field, community members, advocates, and youth affected by the issue. Past interview subjects have included New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Chief Administrative Judge of New York City Family Court, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, the New York City Law Department, and the Legal Aid Society.
The board’s research culminates in the development of proposals and recommendations for policymakers and officials. The board issues a final report and holds a series of meetings to present its policy recommendations directly to relevant officials and policymakers. Past presentations have been made to the Chancellor of the Department of Education, the New York City Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office, the New York City Council, the New York State Assembly, the New York State Judicial Training Institute and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development.
After publishing its report, the Board develops and executes strategies to facilitate the implementation of their recommendations. Strategies have included advocating for their ideas directly with key agencies, designing and implementing pilot initiatives, developing materials to assist other youth, and building partnerships with other organizations addressing the same topic.
The program works with and supports members after they graduate from the Youth Justice Board. Many alumni continue to advocate for the implementation of the Board’s recommendations. In addition, alumni take on leadership positions in their schools and communities.
Next Move NYC
The Youth Justice Board collaborated to create NextMoveNYC.org, a website designed to help disconnected young people achieve their goals. It offers users links to education, social services, and job training. Next Move NYC is also optimized for mobile phone use.