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TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the Juvenile Justice Commission (“JJC”), in conjunction with the Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“JJDP”) Committee, has awarded 14 grants totaling $233,000 to police departments, schools, and non-profit organizations across the State to expand summer programs for at-risk youth.
The grants provide organizations already running successful summer programs for at-risk youth with up to $20,000 in additional funding each to enhance their programs and/or increase the number of young people they serve. An additional 600 at-risk youth throughout New Jersey will be able to participate in an array of recreational, educational, and character-building activities being offered in their communities this summer as a result of these grants.
“New Jersey is committed to making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth and preventing their involvement in the youth justice system,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The JJC and JJDP Committee have worked together to expand access to programs in communities to provide youth with activities and learning experiences that foster important life skills, and help them retain vital educational progress and connections to services while school is not in session.”
Funding for the grants comes from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention’s Formula Grants Program, which supports state and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts and juvenile justice system improvements. The funds can be used to provide job training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, community-based programs and services, reentry/aftercare services, and school programs to prevent truancy.
“At the foundation of New Jersey’s youth justice reform efforts is the understanding that youth can succeed in their communities with appropriate resources. Through these grants, the Juvenile Justice Commission, in partnership with the JJDP Committee, is enhancing a system that provides the tools and skills necessary for young people to navigate challenges, recognize their potential, and successfully prevent their involvement in the juvenile justice system,” said Jennifer LeBaron, Ph.D, Acting Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. “Our partners in the community are delivering thoughtful, exciting, and valuable summer experiences for youth that not only provide benefits during the summer months, but will provide young people with skills and experiences that will have lifelong significance.”
Based on the philosophy that communities have a unique understanding of their local youth populations, the JJC administers millions of dollars in state and federal grants that encourage the development and enhancement of a continuum of community-based services for at-risk, court-involved, and delinquent youth. The JJDP Committee is responsible for setting funding priorities for the federal funds awarded through the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency prevention that support state- and local-level initiatives, community-based programs, and system reform efforts.
“The JJDP Committee is proud to provide resources to help existing successful programs expand their reach, both in terms of the number of youth who can participate, and the services and opportunities available to them,” said the Honorable F. Lee Forrester, Chairman of the JJDP Committee and a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge. “These efforts support community-based programs and system reforms that prevent or reduce delinquency and improve the lives of youth and families in New Jersey.”
In addition to meeting other requirements for funding, grant recipients have demonstrated the capacity to host summer programs virtually, if necessary, or to provide programming to account for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The following programs will receive funding:
- Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth, Monmouth County ($19,650) will expand an eight-week summer program that provides activities and services, including mentoring, sports and recreation programs; access to computer knowledge; service and leadership clubs to an additional 25 students in Asbury Park, Neptune, and Long Branch.
- The Camp Horizon Summer Learning Program, Gloucester County ($20,000) will allow 25 additional school-aged children to participate in a summer-long program that provides enrichment and physical activities. The program, in partnership with the Bullock Garden Project, will include an outdoor education and walking classroom to deliver a curriculum focusing on gardening, birding, botany, and climate.
- Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Mercer County ($8,588) will expand its program to serve an additional 150 participants and provide additional recreational and educational summer camp experiences to young people. Collaborating with La’Keisha Sutton & Her Fan Favorite, LLC, the program will provide a six-week basketball clinic including skills, drills, and games, as well as discussions on healthy nutrition, education, faith, character, decision making, and leadership.
- The Center for Prevention & Education, Sussex County ($20,000) will increase the total number of 7th graders participating in its summer program from 40 to 50 participants. The program will also be enhanced by creating a Youth Task Force that will design, create, and deliver a local leadership conference.
- Community Action Services (Rise), Mercer County ($20,000) will develop a five-day Teen Youth Conference to take place at a university or virtually, as required by CDC guidelines. Rise will serve an additional 12 young people in a variety of workshops to facilitate positive behavior, to deliver information on post high school options and alternatives, and to provide information on peer voluntarism.
- The Hackensack Police Department, Bergen County ($19,501) will expand its annual Police Youth Academy (PYA) to include 35 additional participants. The program fosters a positive relationship between local youth and police. Instructors include local police officers, firefighters, and volunteers from Hackensack and the surrounding towns.
- Jackson Township School District, Ocean County ($18,204) will expand its summer learning to approximately 50 additional students for 15 half-days to recover core math and literacy skills through a STEM initiative that integrates social-emotional wellness activities. The expansion funds will also be used to purchase additional LEGO Mindstorms robots needed to successfully implement the program.
- The Joseph Firth Youth Center, Warren County ($7,483) will serve an additional 40 participants, with a focus on middle school youth (grades 6th-8th), and include four additional programming hours per week during the 10-week summer program. The Center collaborates with youth sports organizations to deliver the SPORT-Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) curriculum, combining physical activity and sports with healthy-living components, including diet, sleep, and stress control. It also incorporates content on the negative impacts of alcohol and drugs.
- New Community Corporation, Essex County ($20,000) will expand its summer program that delivers hands-on STEM experiments, photography, music appreciation, Zumba, and art and crafts to allow 25 additional young people to participate. The length of the program will also be increased from six weeks to eight weeks, and three new components will be offered including digital music recording, robotics with emphasis on computer coding, and drama.
- Prevention Education, Inc. (PEI), Mercer County ($19,993) will increase the number of participants served through its Summer Initiative/Juvenile Intense Supervision (JIS) programming for first-time youthful offenders, young people on probation, and at-risk youth in Mercer County. An additional 19 new young people will participate in the summer program which will include a new program module, “Connecting with Community,” that focuses on promoting understanding and building community.
- Roselle Board of Education, Union County ($12,815) will use the funds to add two guidance counselors to its summer program staff, enabling the program to serve an additional 150 participants, bringing the total served to 500. The counselors will work with students through a combination of classroom, small groups, and one-on-one activities.
- Trenton Circus Squad, Mercer County ($20,000) will expand its summer traveling residences to provide additional services to Trenton youth including overnight accommodations at a university, as allowed under COVID-19 guidelines, college/career exploration, and access to a life/career coach.
- Trenton Music Makers, Mercer County ($19,907) will expand its program by engaging an additional 50 students. In addition, working with the Capital Area YMCA, Trenton Music Makers will use the grant funding to add an outdoor tented area where students can engage in their music study, and to add a hip-hop production and a choir to augment the existing conducting and percussion classes.
- Trenton Police Department (TPD), Mercer County ($7,446) will expand its current Summer Camp Program to an additional 15 participants and integrate a police exploration, communication, and relations component. In addition, TPD will expand its programming into schools and enhance partnerships with parent/teacher programs.
The JJC was established in 1995 to serve as the single agency of the State government with centralized authority for planning, policy development, and provision of services in the juvenile justice system. The JJC is committed to implementing and promoting policies and practices that improve outcomes for young people involved with the juvenile justice system, their families, and their communities.
The JJC’s three primary responsibilities are providing care, custody, and rehabilitative services to youth committed to the agency by the courts, supervising and coordinating services for youth released from custody on parole, and supporting local efforts to provide prevention and early intervention services to at-risk and court-involved youth.