March 14, 2024

AFJ Continues To Build Out Our HIRE Up Program With Enhanced Programming Offerings in 2024

In 2024, Avenues for Justice (AFJ) is working on adding more sustainability and longevity to the impact of our HIRE Up program so that our workshop offerings can provide concrete advancements for our justice-impacted Participants. AFJ operates two community centers in Harlem and the Lower East Side. Each center has unique programming geared towards addressing the individualized needs of our Participants and the communities we serve. Today, we want to highlight three workshops in our HIRE Up program: Digital Literacy, Coding and Legal Rights and Responsibilities.

Digital Literacy: Starting in 2020, AFJ launched a proctored Digital Literacy program in response to the digital divide which Participants experienced from at-home learning as a result of the pandemic. We have found that these modules complement our job readiness initiatives. The increase of test taking has been greatly motivated by group instruction, led by two AFJ Court Advocates. 

Over the four years we have offered this program, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of Digital Literacy certifications earned by our Participants:

2020: 38 Certifications Earned
2021:27 Certifications Earned
2022:282 Certifications Earned
2023:514 Certifications Earned

Coding: This year, AFJ added a new coding class intended to bridge the equity gap in STEM education through computer science, project-based learning and teamwork. Our coding program consists of three components: Coding Skills, Website Development, and self-efficacy assessments. During the first session, Participants worked on website development and will move on to more complex coding platforms, such as Python. AFJ wants to help our Participants understand that computer programming can be used as a tool for empowerment---positioning them above educational and career curves. Our new facilitator, J.E. De La Cruz, focuses on individualized attention, but also puts a high value on self-motivation.   

His teaching philosophy is meticulously outlined in the Medium article, Embracing the Facilitator-of-Information-Role in the Evolving Landscape of Androgogy in S.T.E.M. Education | by J. E. De La Cruz |Medium.

Legal Rights & Responsibilities:

Led by Harlem Court Advocate, Brian, AFJ is continuing our Legal Rights & Responsibilities workshop. A weekly series, the workshop is aimed at educating Participants on their legal rights and responsibilities, criminal law, the criminal and juvenile court process, and collateral consequences. Each new Participant is required to attend at least one workshop to help them gain a better understanding of their individual court cases. 

In February, AFJ Advisory Council member, Wayne McKenzie, who is the Pathways to Public Safety Division Chief at the Manhattan DA’s office, was a guest facilitator at our Harlem community center. The workshop had a great turnout, insightful conversation and Participants look forward to having Wayne back in the future.

With our community centers bustling daily with workshops and activities, AFJ’s programming has become comprehensive, diverse, and more importantly: popular among our Participants! None of this would be possible without the support of our funders, corporate partners, facilitators and volunteers. Thank you for being a part of this historic year as we celebrate 45 Years of Second Chances! 

If you would like to facilitate a workshop as part of our HIRE Up program, please email Director of Court Advocacy, Gamal Willis, at


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