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“I am pleased that Safe Passages was selected for this highly competitive [U.S. Department of Labor] funding to provide comprehensive re-entry services to young adults. It is a testament to the strength of the public-private partnership Safe Passages has created to provide vulnerable youth the tools to build productive and prosperous lives.” – Congresswoman Barbara Lee. 

Through the support of the US Department of Labor and other leveraged resources, The Law and Social Justice Career Pathway Program offers young people growing up in poverty, the resources and supports they need to pursue their goals and to develop the skills to move forward successfully in the workforce. 

The Law and Social Justice Career Pathway serves adjudicated youth ages 16 to 19 who reside in the most crime impacted and economically disenfranchised communities of Oakland. Recognizing that juvenile arrests can follow youth for the rest of their lives and become a major barrier to inclusion and advancement in the workforce, Safe Passages has developed a program that removes barriers for young people and provides supports towards successful career skill building opportunities. 

The Law and Social Justice Career Pathway consists of the following services: 

1. Education and training
2. Service learning and workforce activities
3. Case management and mentoring
4. Legal Services

The theory of change is simple – providing reentry youth with coordinated wraparound services that address low education skills, social supports, including access to basic needs, legal services and building the youth development and workforce development competencies of the youth will result in (1) Improved school attendance; (2) improved academic skills; (3) greater employability; (4) less recidivism; and (5) less violence among participants. 

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Data illustrates that youth who are arrested in Oakland and are taken to the Juvenile Justice Center have poor educational outcomes. Given this data, the project focuses on helping every participant complete high school either through Alternative Education Placements or Adult Education courses. 

In addition, the Project introduces a broad array of career opportunities including but not limited to, law enforcement, education, counseling, youth development, social workers, certified translation, court staffing and trades jobs. These fields represent demand industries in the state of California that minimally provide a livable wage. 

Safe Passages also partners with local colleges to create a pipeline for participants into Industry-Recognized Credential programs. 

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The program also provides interesting and engaging internship and workforce placements primarily in the fields of law and social justice. Reentry youth experience the Juvenile Justice system but often cannot access career pathways in law and social justice. 

In partnership with the Workforce Investment Board, the project links all participants with summer employment opportunities. 

Lastly, our partnership with Inner City Advisors, a small business incubator with a commitment to creating good jobs in Oakland, enables us to introduce the youth to a variety of businesses and start-ups. 

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Youth are matched with Life Skills Coaches who serve as mentors and advocates for their mentees by actively brokering relationships, services and engaging families to secure the success of each participant. Life Coaches are engaged in all aspects of the lives of participants, including education, and internship/work placement. 

Coaches also teach Life Skills Classes through a curriculum developed by Safe Passages and include such as obtaining a California Identification Document, applying for financial aid for school, opening a bank account, filling out a job application, and other skills needed to perform well in career track jobs. 

Life Skill Coaches also connect mentees to supportive services including educational support, substance abuse counseling, mental health, health, legal services, family support, workforce development, rehabilitation services, housing and other services as needed. 

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In partnership with the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), each youth is screened for eligibility for record sealing and other legal services. The project employs a full time attorney at EBCLC to conduct intakes during Life Skills Classes on school sites and eligible youth can have their juvenile criminal records sealed at no cost. Youth and their families are also eligible for a number of other free legal services, including help with immigration, benefits, landlord-tenant, and education rights. 

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Safe Passages has brought together the following partners for this endeavor: 

– Inner City Advisors (www.innercityadvisors.org)
– East Bay Community Law Center (www.ebclc.org)
– Merritt Community College (web.peralta.edu/blog/category/merritt-college/)
– Oakland Police Department (www.oaklandpolice.com/)
– Workforce Investment Board (www.oaklandwib.org/)
– Oakland Unified School District Department of Alternative Education (www.ousd.k12.ca.us/Domain/81)
– Alameda County District Attorney, Juvenile Division (www.alcoda.org/offices/juvenile_justice)
– Alameda County Public Defenders Juvenile Division (www.co.alameda.ca.us/defender/services/juvenile.htm)