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Peaceprints of WNY Awarded Federal Investment to Provide Services to Justice-Involved Youth

by choldridge

Fourth Federal Second Chance Act for Erie County

Sat, Oct 15th 2022 12:00 pm

Buffalo, NY —   Reentry service provider Peaceprints of WNY announced today that Empower Youth, a program offering case management for justice-involved young people ages 14-18 was awarded a Federal grant to expand the program in both duration and scope. This is the fourth-ever investment from the US Department of Justice awarded to Erie County and the third for Peaceprints. The $750,000 investment, awarded across three years will connect 100 young people incarcerated in the Erie County Youth Detention Center with a case manager to work with the client during their incarceration and up to one year following their release.


The current iteration of Empower Youth, developed in 2017, is funded by the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation and serves 60 young people a year. In the United States an average of 80% of justice involved youth re-offend within three years of release, and over 40% end up in the adult justice system by the time they are 25. Empower Youth’s current recidivism rate is 7%.


“This federal investment is a huge victory for our county’s young people,” says Peaceprints of WNY CEO Cindi McEachon. “Expanding the number of justice-involved youth being linked with case management and community resources will directly increase our county’s high school graduation rates, strengthen our local workforce, and improve public safety. By being able to connect with our clients while they are most vulnerable and staying with them for a year following their transition back into the community, we are setting up these young people and our community up for a successful future!”

“We are thrilled by the expansion”, offers Tracy Sawicki, Executive Director of the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation. “The majority of the clients served by Empower Youth have a history of substance use, learning disabilities, and/or a mental health diagnosis. The untreated symptoms of these diagnoses are often what landed the young person in the justice system in the first place. Empower Youth prioritizes getting the young person linked with the care they need and ensure the treatment plan is followed through so they can achieve their goals and thrive. This expansion allows even more vulnerable young people to be connected with the tools and resources to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.”


In realizing this expansion, Empower Youth will rely heavily on partnerships with local government entities and community nonprofits to take a holistic approach to how our juvenile justice system operates. In addition to the Tower Foundation, contributing local partners include BestSelf Behavioral Health, Buffalo Public Schools, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the Erie County District Attorney's Office, Erie County Probation, Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition, Judge Susan Eagan, People Inc, and VIA Evaluation.


Empower Youth takes a trauma-informed and healing-centered approach to giving justice-involved youth the tools and resources to regain control of their lives and correct the racial imbalance in the juvenile justice system. The strength-based, advocacy-oriented program exists to help low-income, high-risk young people avoid future involvement with the criminal justice system and overcome barriers to successful community reentry. The program provides pre- and post- release case management and programming, including evidenced based workshops like as Youth Crossroads. Clients are enrolled in comprehensive educational and employment services, have access to healthcare services, receive wraparound services, mentoring, housing coordination, and participate in cognitive behavior therapy. For more information, call (716)856-6131 or visit: www.peaceprintswny.org




About Peaceprints of WNY: Since 1985, Peaceprints of WNY has been committed to providing comprehensive reentry services that promote social justice and equity. We recognize that no two individuals are the same, and that circumstances, abilities, and needs of the people we help vary greatly. Services include transitional, supportive and independent housing, intensive case management, youth programming, in-prison workshops and support groups, as well as education and workforce development programs designed to empower and equip returning citizens with the tools necessary to transform their lives and reclaim their stake as contributing members of our community.