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Program helps previously incarcerated youth return to their communities

When it comes to bringing previously incarcerated youth back into their communities, many turn to Fresh Lifelines for Youth’s Reentry Program.

Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) is a non-profit organization with stations in Milpitas that works to serve Bay Area youth impacted by the juvenile justice system. Through their programs serving over 2,000 youth from ages 11 through 25, they hope to provide meaningful opportunities for youth at risk of being part of the juvenile justice system in order to create safer communities overall.

FLY’s Reentry Program mainly serves young people from ages 14 through 18. The Reentry Program works primarily to support youth in juvenile hall in coming back to their communities.

The program was created due to the many barriers that previously incarcerated youth face when returning to their communities, such as a lack of resources, in order to better set them up for success. FLY created the program to find such resources so as to ensure that young people will not re-enter the juvenile system.

Tina Tellez, a FLY Program Manager, states that “there are people in the community that really care about our youth.” She hopes that “our youth know that they are more than their past mistakes and the programs we provide are really working with our young people.”

For youth who go through with the program, it typically lasts about 6-9 months but may be extended to about a year. For the length of the program, the youth are partnered with a case manager to help with their goals, social and emotional skills, and finding work or schooling, along with securing other outside resources to help them along. The main priority is to motivate the youth and provide them with the self-confidence to stay out of the system.

When asked about the program’s effectiveness, Tellez states, “I’ve seen youth do great things like getting jobs, going to school, and the littlest things that a lot of people take for granted.” After completing the program, youth are less likely to reoffend.

The program’s effectiveness shows most clearly through the youth themselves. Many youth who have been part of the program believe that FLY has helped to change the course of their lives. According to one young person who went through the program: “Before FLY I was a hopeless and lost child and now with FLY’s help I am on my way to becoming a successful adult.”

In the future, FLY hopes to expand its Reentry Program to other counties in the Bay Area. FLY also hopes to help others understand the program’s importance to youth coming out of incarceration. According to Tellez “there’s so many opportunities for people to get involved with our young people and it’s a great opportunity for people to give back and see how they can support and help.”

To learn more about FLY’s Reentry Program and other programs provided by the organization, please visit flyprogram.org.

Maria Denise Cuenca
Maria Denise Cuenca is a Senior at Milpitas Middle College High School. As part of the inaugural class, she’s the editor for the student newspaper, the Stepping Stone, and works concurrently as the President of the school’s She’s the First Chapter, an organization that supports girl-centered programs throughout the world. As a writer for the Milpitas Beat, she has the opportunity to write about issues relating to homelessness, local politics, and women’s rights. For over a year, she’s been a proud intern for Camp ButterFLY, where she organizes meetings, designs flyers, and does marketing for the organization to further their mission of teaching women to be leaders and find a path towards a career. During her free time, she enjoys watching shows on Netflix and reading the news.


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