Surrounded by proud parents, smiling staff, and mentors, seven participants took part in the first graduating class of JCCA’s Arches program. There were nine people in the class. Arches, a collaboration with the NYC Department of Probation, is a transformative mentoring program for young adults (ages 16-24) who are on probation.

Based in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of New York’s highest risk neighborhoods, it is a structured program that provides mentors who have had a personal experience with the juvenile justice system. According to Cherise Littlejohn, Director of Arches, “We are so proud of our young people. They were committed and dedicated to this program. They appreciated and respected the safe space, listening ears, and nurturing from the Arches staff. As a result, so many of them are able to make better decisions that affect their future.” One of the participants, Brandon, offered a reason for the success of the program. “In this group, I feel safe and I can let my guard down. This group allows me to be who I really am and work on some of the things I want to change about myself.”