COVID-19: Equipping Homes Digitally for Our Youth

Avenues for Justice

Equipping Homes Digitally for Our Youth

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Johnny Jara (right), AFJ Court Advocate and Activities and Volunteer Coordinator with one of his participants. Photo by Marty Umans

In the fifth week of NYC’s COVID-19 lockdown, Avenues for Justice (AFJ) now provides four on-line workshops and group sessions per week, plus daily check-ins and mentoring for our youthful offenders and at-risk youth. But there’s more - we also equip their homes digitally, providing laptops and phones. Here’s a sample of what one of AFJ’s Court Advocates, Johnny, has been doing recently for our youth and their families, in addition to scheduling AFJ’s online services and workshops: 

Bernard:  Bernard is one of AFJ’s top high school students. But Johnny knew his home wasn’t digitally equipped for remote classes with the Department of Education (DOE) or for virtual workshops with AFJ. Johnny also learned that his family had trouble applying for a free laptop from the school system. Johnny worked for a week with DOE to secure a laptop. But Bernard then found it difficult to learn under the DOE’s new online classes and fell behind.  Johnny responded by recruiting a volunteer tutor who had previously worked with Bernard at AFJ’s community center to tutor him on-line. Bernard is now making progress. 

 

Marc:  As a new father on lock down, Marc is working towards getting his GED/HSE so that after the crisis, he can find a job to support his child. But not knowing that the school system provides free laptops for GED students, he didn’t apply for one. Marc’s teachers then called Johnny at AFJ to say that Marc was turning in his homework assignments late. Johnny contacted Marc and discovered that his entire family - parents, sisters and brothers - were sharing one laptop. As a result, Marc was staying up late at night to try to catch up with his classes.  Once again, as with Bernard, Johnny managed to get a laptop for the household and Marc’s teachers now say that he has been submitting his homework on time.  

  • AFJ has had two online creative writing workshops with volunteer Nina. See a clip from Nina’s first workshop here!
  • Both AFJ community centers in Harlem and the Lower East Side have moved weekly group meetings on-line, also reaching youth in other neighborhoods. During the group meeting, participants have communicated:
    • Sheltering at home is really hard.
    • Online high school classes are difficult to understand with fewer chances to ask questions.
  • To help our youth keep up with online classes, Johnny recruited five volunteers to help tutor them on-line. If you are interested in tutoring, please email Johnny at jjara@avenuesforjustice.org
  • Our April 3rd blog highlighted the 4 ways that we are managing a remote alternative to incarceration (ATI) and 4 ways it can make an ATI even better. You can read that newsletter here
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All other inquiries or responses please contact:

Elizabeth Frederick at efrederick@avenuesforjustice.org

Our resource sheet for your use: Avenues for Justice is continuing to add resources to our website - feel free to use and share here.