Youth Advocate

position Description

Organization Description  

Youth Justice Network (formerly known as Friends of Island Academy) was founded in 1990 on the school floors of Rikers Island to anchor, support and develop capacity among young people newly released from jail in New York City. Our mission is to break cycles of incarceration and build an equitable justice system by providing young people with individualized advocacy, mentorship, and opportunities to grow, thrive, and lead.   Youth Justice Network builds on connections developed with young people whose lives have intersected with the justice system, and leverages those relationships to provide post-release, neighborhood-based supportive services.  Young people become members of Youth Justice Network for the long-term and develop personal milestones and goals in the arenas of health and well-being, education, employment, youth leadership and community participation. 

Position Background and Description  

As part of Youth Justice Network’s advocacy team, Youth Advocates are at the core of our mission to offer pre-release planning and neighborhood-based services and support to young adults released from custody and returning home to NYC. Youth Advocates serve as mentor, case manager, navigator, facilitator, counselor, and coach, developing trust and building on relationships which begin in custody.  The primary work of the Youth Advocate takes place in the New York City neighborhoods to which  youth return.  

Objectives of this Role

Develop relationships with young people in jail and custodial settings prior to their release, with the goal of creating and developing individualized plans during and after custody 

  •  Connect with youth at one of several facilities which house adolescents and young adults;  
  • Spend time in new admissions houses on a rotating schedule, providing early contact and concrete, limited supports, including family outreach; 
  • Reach out to youth significant other/family and other potential support systems available to youth; 
  • Conduct consistent weekly visits leading up to the release date, allowing time to cement relationships and meet with families prior to the youth’s release;    
  • Sustain on-going contact as they move through general population;  
  • Reach out to and develop relationship with families of youth; 
  • Gather relevant information to create an individualized plan that includes reaching out to community organizations that will serve the young people upon release; 
  • Gauge young person’s readiness to make positive changes/improvements in their life; 
  • Collaborate with in-house court advocacy team to identify young people who need additional support at court, assist young people with follow through on this plan; 
  • Daily documentation of outreach, follow-up, individualized youth plans, and youth progress in the online database system. 

Leverage relationships and release plans established with young people during custody and provide neighborhood-based supports  

  • Prepare and support families for a youth’s transition home from justice system involvement prior to release from custody;  
  • Facilitate and support youth enrollment, engagement and academic advancement;  
  • Connect youth to post-release neighborhood-based services, both in-house and through partner organizations, to support individual progress in overall youth development and to leverage natural supports and services in the neighborhood on behalf of youth members; 
  • Facilitate and support young people’s engagement with the world of work;  
  • Leverage relationships with formal and informal community members/leaders, local vendors, faith-based supports;  
  • Address and navigate system-related barriers on behalf of youth and families; 
  • Daily documentation of outreach, follow-up, individualized youth plans, and youth progress in the online database system. 



  • Bachelor’s degree required and relevant experience working with youth population; 
  • Two years of experience youth and young adults who are systems involved (i.e. juvenile justice, child welfare, etc.); 
  • Two years of experience working in a community based setting providing crisis support and/or case management; 
  • Integrity, flexibility and a profound commitment to the youth we serve; 
  • Committed to working collegially and in a team-based setting; 
  • Experience/training in youth development; 
  • Strong interpersonal skills, cultural competence, and an understanding and belief in strengths-based youth development philosophy; 
  • Strong oral and written communication skills; 
  • Skilled in meticulous documentation and an eye for detail; proficient in Microsoft Excel. 
  • Experience in data entry on online database systems or a willingness to learn online database systems; 
  • Individuals with prior criminal justice involvement are encouraged to apply, but must be able to gain clearance on Rikers Island (no contact with criminal justice system for two years, including parole or probation). 
  • Physical ability to travel extensively throughout the five boroughs and Rikers via walking and public transportation. 
  • Occasional evenings and weekends required for youth development activities/events 


  • Experience in education, conflict resolution, and/or counseling; 
  • Experience with or understanding of trauma-informed practices; 
  • Bilingual; 
  • Experience working with both DOC and ACS systems and facilities; 
  • Experience working in a secure/custodial setting strongly preferred. 

Target Start Date: June 15, 2023 
Salary Range: $45,000 – $50,000 

For internal equity, we are unable to go outside of the salary posted. 

To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to: