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Westchester County Exec George Latimer, Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah, and Former Federal Judge Karen Friedman Note OYP’s Positive Impact in The Region
City Court ceremony recognized achievements of 8 All Start participants; City Manager Gill honored with Community MVP Award
On November 3rd, 2023, the Opportunity Youth Part (OYP), a community-justice initiative in New Rochelle City Court, marked its third anniversary by celebrating the achievements of eight All Star participants and hearing from several elected officials about the positive impact OYP is having in the region. “We have come a long way in three years,” notes the Hon. Jared R. Rice, who launched OYP in October of 2020. “We have built an effective team on both the Court and community side of OYP and together we are seeing that our efforts are transforming lives and helping our participants receive a favorable legal outcome.”
When Judge Rice launched OYP, he had two primary goals in mind: to connect participants to community organizations that could provide workforce trainings, job placements, GED classes, Mentors, and assistance with behavioral health and substance use challenges. The other main goal was to offer participants a legal path that would enable them to complete the program without a criminal record. It typically takes a participant 12-18 months of complying with a customized Wellness Plan before they can graduate or complete the program. Of the 73 participants who have successfully completed the program, 91% have been able to exit OYP without a criminal record.
OYP has engaged with 256 participants since its inception. On the community side of the initiative, the vast majority of our participants referred to case management have been connected to jobs, workforce trainings, GED classes, and assistance with substance use and behavioral health.
One highlight of this year’s Anniversary celebration was seeing our 2021 OYP All-Star MVP Kevin Brickle introduce the winner of our Community MVP Award, City Manager Kathleen Gill, who has been such a staunch supporter of OYP. “For the past two years, the City Council has voted to support this program; investing in our young people is a top priority,” said City Manager Kathleen Gill. City leaders have supported OYP’s Mentorship, Housing, and Employment efforts, and even created a paid six-week internship program for OYP participants. In the past year, 31 paid internships have been provided to OYP participants, connecting them to numerous New Rochelle businesses, including Alvin’s Restaurant, Mikey Dubbs, New Rochelle Farms, SuggarPlums, Hour to Exit, LoloVivi Jewelry, and My Salon Suite.
“I go to Courts all over the country and this is not the norm,” noted former Federal Judge Karen Friedman, who is now the Director of Criminal Justice Innovation, Development and Engagement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance. “This is innovation. This is about investing in and creating opportunities for young people to reach their full potential.”
“We are all so hungry for positive outcomes and to see the people and community coming together to make good things happen.” observed Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah. “Judge Rice is making that happen.”
“We want to see government be innovative and do things differently,” noted County Executive George Latimer. “We look at OYP as a success. We look at this program as one that can be replicated.”