A criminal conviction can have a crippling effect on an individual’s economic mobility. To facilitate the economic advancement of young adult probation clients and reduce recidivism, the New York City Department of Probation, Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, and Young Men’s Initiative launched the Arches Transformative Mentoring program in 2011. The program, targeted to youths aged 16–24 with low education levels and minimal employment histories who live in communities that offer limited access to economic advancement opportunities, is centered on community-based mentoring, job training, and social skills development.
Arches Transformative Mentoring works with young people in their own neighborhoods, connecting them with “credible messenger” mentors—individuals who have backgrounds similar to the participants, including prior involvement with the justice system. Each mentor works with a maximum of four program participants and leads small group meetings guided by a 48-session evidence-based curriculum that employs cognitive behavioral interventions. Mentors are available around the clock for support outside of sessions and, alongside probation officers, help these youths make better and safer decisions, pursue their goals, and connect to educational and employment opportunities.