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Fifth Ward Juvenile Justice Program Awarded $30K from the Texas Bar Foundation

Program Aims to Break School-to-Prison Pipeline

(Houston, TX) - The Texas Bar Foundation (TBF) has renewed its support for the Center for Urban Transformation’s (CUT) Juvenile Justice Diversion Program with a $30,000 grant to the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation (FWCRC), which is the administrator for and a collaborator with CUT.

In 2019, support from the TBF grant allowed CUT to convene a coalition that included the Harris County District Attorney’s office, area Houston Independent School District campuses, after school service providers, law enforcement agencies, and many others to launch the program at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

“We’re grateful for the Texas Bar Foundation’s support in our efforts to create more equity in the law enforcement system for minority youth,” said Joel Androphy, CUT Board of Directors member. “We want this program to be a model for other communities across the nation that face the same problems.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation.

The CUT program in 5th Ward serves youth who are deemed at-risk or are arrested on a Fifth Ward school campus. Instead of going through the juvenile justice system and potentially receiving a criminal record that adds barriers to accessing future opportunities, youth are diverted to CUT for case management, mentorship, and restorative justice services based in the community.

One of the first students to successfully be diverted by completing six months of the program and closed his arrest case without a charge being filed was a 16-year-old we’ll refer to as “Rafael”. Rafael was referred to CUT after a serious fight with a student. To date, he has not gotten into any other trouble that involved law enforcement since enrolling. CUT helped Rafael address health-related concerns, connected him to a program volunteer tutor, helped his family get access to home repair assistance, and set up a meeting with a mentor in the same career Rafael hopes to have. After the COVID-19 shutdown, Rafael also volunteered at a community service event in 5th Ward.

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The grant from TBF will support a series of workshops to train 100 community adult and youth mentors in restorative justice, conflict resolution, and empathy-based communication. The workshops will help build a group of local mentors and volunteers to engage youth and be a part of overall community transformation. It is a critical part of ensuring not only that youth are not involved in the juvenile justice system but also to improve overall community safety.

The program began with an assembly of committed community partners which includes Pleasant Hill Ministries, FWCRC, Berg and Androphy, Legacy Community Health, and Houston Habitat for Humanity. CUT has the support of a public safety council that includes the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Harris County Juvenile Probation, Houston Independent School District, and many other community leaders.

For more information about CUT, please contact Zarana Sanghani, at 713-674-0175 or email zsanghani@fifthwardcrc.org.

About the Center for Urban Transformation: The CUT is the result of a collaborative of leading Houston community organizations and institutions, including Pleasant Hill Ministries, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Berg & Androphy, Legacy Community Health, and Houston Habitat for Humanity. They are seeking to collaborate to transform the quality of life of families in the poorest neighborhoods in Houston and build a model for communities across the nation. The CUT’s mission is to build resilient families by increasing 5th Ward families' capacity to grow in all areas that impact the quality of life by working across sectors, fill gaps in services, and apply research to serve the community.

About Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation: The non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization was created in 1989 to save one of Houston's most historic and culturally rich communities, the Fifth Ward area. Settled and developed during the mid-1800s, Fifth Ward was home to many of history's native sons and daughters: Barbara Jordan, Mickey Leland, George Foreman, County Commissioner El Franco Lee, and others. As a steward of Houston's Historic 5th Ward and comprehensive community developer, FWCRC continues to enhance the quality of life for individuals and families, eliminate blight, attract investment and resources, encourage commercial and business development, coordinate government, and public service, and offer a sense of destination and creative place-making. The finished product is a healthy and vibrant community for residents and visitors alike - a great place to live, work, and play!

About the Texas Bar Foundation: Created in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation is a membership organization comprised of Texas attorneys with a mission of Advancing Justice in Texas by providing opportunities to support the rule of law in Texas. The Texas Bar Foundation funds projects throughout Texas that further legal services for the underserved, public education, ethics and professionalism in the legal profession, administration of justice, and victim services. Since its inception, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in grants to law-related programs; supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably funded bar foundation.


Media Contact:

Zarana Sanghani

zsanghani@fifthwardcrc.org

281-989-7662 (mobile)

713-674-0175 (office)


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