Friday, January 20, 2017

A year in Review: Community Initiatives at the Brownsville Community Justice Center


Throughout 2016, the Justice Community program (a youth led program operating out of the Brownsville Community Justice Center) worked with residents, community leaders, and community stakeholders to face community challenges head on.

Brownsville youth (along with Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy youth) strove to become thought leaders in problem solving both personal and community issues, all while developing lasting relationships with staff, each other, and community stakeholders.  Participants even received stipends while they developed their skill sets.

Interest Based Workshops
In an attempt to strengthen their own development, move closer to their goals, and better position themselves to be community advocates, Justice Community participants confidently engaged in a variety of learning opportunities.  Participants selected interests, and then attended workshops to begin their journey to achievement.

At the start of the year, Brownsville youth identified neighborhood deficits and worked to build their own solutions to various challenges.
Justice Community and BLP participants discussing pervasive issues Brooklyn youth face everyday

Justice Community and BLP participants brainstorming solutions

Brownsville Community Justice Center youth build with each other to strengthen family

Brownsville Community Justice Center youth plan for the future

- Work Readiness -
Participants then began attending work readiness workshops developed resumes, participated in mock interviews, practiced personal pitches, received professional dress attire, strengthened workplace etiquette, landed internships, earned vocational certifications (OSHA, Auto Cad, etc.), studied for (and passed) GED/TASC exams, and more.
Nick studying for the TASC exam.  Winning!
Participants preparing for job interviews.  We up!
Participants getting free dress attire for their first internships and jobs.  Nice!

Participants earned OSHA certifications and got hands on experience with tools


- Young Adult Entrepreneurship Program -
Participants who enrolled in the Young Adult Entrepreneurship Program (YAEP) explored the entrepreneur mindset and learned how to create a brand, market themselves, manage finances, foster ideation, and more.  Participants in YAEP took their ideas a step further and also teamed up with The Knowledge House to learn the basics of coding so they could build websites to accompany their businesses.  
Justice Community's Young Adult Entrepreneurs snap a shot with BCJC and Progress Playbook staff

As participants developed their own personal skill sets and goals, they also identified and tackled neighborhood issues.  Providing an alternate narrative to the short sighted reputation permeating Brownsville, youth physically transformed and activated spaces throughout the neighborhood.

Participants showing love to the children of the community

Breaking Bread With The Community


Justice Community artists performing for community onlookers

Stronger Together

Where YOUR shot at though???!!!

Oozing Creativity

Drums, Bass, Guitar, Mic, Sound Check...IT'S LIT!!!


- Youth Club House -
Continuing the work of previous Justice Community cohorts, Justice Community participants designed, built, and activated a youth club house to address the need for more youth and community spaces in Brownsville.
Brownsville Community Justice Center staff planning with a brand new cohort of participants

Before construction was completed, we invited the community to watch a movie and relax in the new space

Watching Barbershop 3
The plans are complete!

Participants built their own space to share with the community

Justice Community participants, staff, and partners finished construction
Let's celebrate the grand opening!

In the spring of 2016, in a media and design workshop at the Brownsville Community Justice Center, a group of youth were tasked with observing and documenting their neighborhood through the lens of a camera. This group found that the most uplifting images were infused with light and showcased their favorite qualities of their community.
Installing kiosks for the photos of the best of Brownsville
The Best of Brownsville Photo Project is now a public art installation under the Livonia Avenue elevated train track. For 11 months, Brownsville youth worked with the Brownsville Community Justice Center to curate photographs taken by their neighbors on a rotating basis to publicly display them as the central aspect of the installation.

The final product!

A Holiday on Belmont Avenue

On Saturday, December 17th, members of the Justice Community and Justice Community Plus programs held the “A Holiday on Belmont Ave” event.  Created, planned, and executed by Brownsville Community Justice Center youth, participants expressed a strong desire to give back while also creating a space where the community can gather together and share some cheer going into the holiday season.  Participants distributed over 300 coats, hats, gloves, sweatshirts, and scarves! 
Come get fresh!!!
Inventory was stacked!
Brownsville residents lined up for their holiday gift!

Justice Community participants got gifts too!
We were a gift giving Brownsville Community Justice Center Pop Up Shop!

A Brownsville Family

We are definitely not all work and no play though.  Participants enjoyed trips to parks, the Barclays, Six Flags Great Adventure, and more!!!
Art in the Park


Six Flags

A pitstop on the way back from Six Flags Great Adventure

The Brownsville Community Justice Center and its Justice Community program looks forward to 2017 and graduating the next cohort of participants and continuing to strengthen the Brownsville family.
"JC Graduation 2016"

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Year in Review: APY-2/Diversion

2016 was a busy year marked by the opening of the young adult court which increased the number of young people able to resolve their cases through social services at the Brownsville Community Justice Center. The increase allowed our team to grow to five team members: Liz Farías, Felicia Henry, Curtis Huggins, Ashley Johnson, and our social work intern, Sherell Whitmire.

Youth court: This year youth court saw its largest number of inductees in recent years. More than 15 young people are now serving on Brownsville’s Youth Court and their service to the community was not limited to learning the ins and outs of the judicial system. They also represented Brownsville in NYPD’s recently launched #mybrooklynstory campaign to rewrite the narratives of our communities as well as helping to redecorate the youth room at PSA-2. 

The Alternative to incarceration (ATI) program spearheaded by our Restorative Justice Social Worker Felicia Henry saw an increase in cases through the Supreme Court. The increase allowed for increased programming for young people with felony cases able to resolve their cases through social services.

Men's programming: under the leadership of Curtis Huggins the justice center has created its first gender specific rites of passage program focused on leadership and male identity. These young men will continue to work through January and complete their passage with an MLK event.

Project Reset: the youth justice team continues to partner with the district attorney's office and the NYPD to provide early diversion to 16- and 17-year-olds upon first arrest to resolve their cases through social services and not have to set foot inside a courtroom.

Community benefits: led by Ashley Johnson and Sherrell Whitmire. Our community benefits interns spent their Fall knee-deep in various service projects to aid the community of Brownsville. In between learning about leadership and community organizing some of their biggest accomplishments this year include a huge Halloween event on Belmont Avenue and the creation of holiday care packages for loved ones of the justice center who are currently incarcerated.

Pumpkin painting at the Halloween event

Snack Table set up by staff and participants


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Brownsville Community Justice Center: Spreading a Little Holiday Warmth and Cheer!

     On Saturday, December 17th, members of Justice Community and Justice Community Plusheld “A Holiday on Belmont Ave” event.  Created, planned, and executed by our youth, A Holiday on Belmont Ave was the end result of our current cohort’s participation.
(Our staff member Dwayne with our Justice Community Plus participant prepping the kiosk for the event)

     Serving as our current cohort’s large community benefit projects, participants expressed a strong desire to give back while also creating a space where the community can gather together and share some cheer going in to the holiday season.

(BCJC participant sorting out the merchandise; making sure everything is picture perfect!)

     In collaboration with the Foundation Showroom, brand new winter gear items were distributed to the community members.  Some of the brands included were Alpha Industries, New Era, Akoo Clothing, 10 Deep, and Quiksilver.

Throughout the event, community members were able to view and select several items which included coats/jackets, hats, and scarfs. 

(Community members lining up in anticipation for the start of the event)

(The bags are packed and ready for sendoff!)

(Community members receiving swag bags from the event)

(Community members being assisted by event staff to select the flyest gear for the holidays!)

(Participants receiving some new winter gear for the holidays!)

Additionally, community members partook in delicious holiday treats from Brownsville’s own 3 Black Cats Café and Cakery!

(Participants serving delicious holiday treats to community members!)

As the event closed, over 300 community members and guests were served with various winter items for the holidays!

(After a great day of giving back, participants, volunteers, and staff take a group picture!)