Urban Roots Uses Food, Farming to Transform Youth

Courtesy of  Urban Roots .

Courtesy of Urban Roots.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Urban Roots Austin is a youth development organization that uses food and farming to transform the lives of young people.

But the nonprofit couldn't do it without the adult volunteers who offer a little guidance along the way.

Carrie Heinley is one of them. She says, "Doing something completely out of your comfort zone is just so important.  That's what got me started and kept me coming back."

Carrie has always been a fan of fine gardening. But until she started volunteering at Urban Roots Austin, she had never tried food gardening. 

Carrie says, "I loved the work. When you come out here there's so much to do and it's always something different.  You're planting, you're harvesting, you're weeding and I just learned so much."

Now, Carrie is passing that knowledge along to the young people who work with Urban Roots.  

Carrie says, "They are a partnership in the community for the youth to have real world, real job experiences. And the work we do here is work. I mean, it's a very rigorous, real experience that's great for the volunteers and it's great for the youth."

Urban Roots even offers those youth paid internships.

Click here to learn more from Time Warner/Spectrum News.

Applicants said the country's largest state university system discriminated against former prison inmates. Now, the schools have decided to #BanTheBox.

Applicants to State University of New York schools must disclose, in question 20a, if they have committed a felony.  STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK/ THE MARSHALL PROJECT .

Applicants to State University of New York schools must disclose, in question 20a, if they have committed a felony. STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK/THE MARSHALL PROJECT.

As of 2018, students who apply to a two-year or four-year college within the State University System of New York will no longer have to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony.

SUNY officials, who oversee the nation's largest public university system, voted on Wednesday to "ban the box" on student applications that asks about criminal history. An internal memo outlining SUNY's decision credited a 2015 analysis that found nearly two-thirds of applicants who disclosed having a felony record had dropped out of the application process.

Alan Rosenthal, an attorney with the Syracuse-based Center for Community Alternatives, an advocacy group for former inmates that investigated SUNY's treatment of applicants, said he was elated to learn that his analysis influenced the change.

"This is the first public education system in any state to reverse course, and reject the box," Rosenthal told The Marshall Project. "Hopefully other states will do the same."

SUNY spokeswoman Holly Liapis, however, noted that students will still face criminal background inquiries when applying for on-campus housing, internships and study abroad programs.

Click here to read the rest of the story on The Marshall Project.

Captive Lives: Children of inmates face long odds of success

An estimated 10 million children in the U.S. have parents who have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. According to “Shared Sentence,” arecent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child health and welfare organization, such children have a greater chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Their families are less likely to be financially stable and more likely to be homeless. At school, they are more likely to be suspended or expelled or drop out.

Many are byproducts of the country’s move toward tough-on-crime policies, which have helped swell the overall jail and prison population to 2.3 millionpeople, more than four times the total imprisoned in 1980.

For every incarcerated parent in San Francisco, there’s a child like Luna. Like Arvaughn Williams, 17, whose father was in and out of jail until he was shot and killed four years ago. Or Leila Soto, 17, who hasn’t seen her father since he was sent to prison when she was 4.

Yet the needs of children like these have been largely ignored. Government efforts to help them are scant. Unlike for children in poverty or English learners, there is no consistent funding designated to aid them.

Click here to learn more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

#Publicolor: Art classes let youth address police brutality

Police Brutality. Art by  Weird Chief .

Police Brutality. Art by Weird Chief.

NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Art classes are helping at-risk students find a path to a brighter future. Who owns the solutions of tomorrow? I heard about an interesting program that might hold some answers and had to check it out.

Publicolor, a long-term development program focused on addressing the needs of minority students from some of New York's poorest neighborhoods, is tackling the topic of police brutality. I went to the Manhattan offices to join the conversation and to rock the boat of thought.

They are in high school or fresh out. They recently finished the program's Summer Design Studio on the Pratt University campus.

Click here for more from Fox5News.

#YoungNewYorkers: Young offenders sentenced to art classes in New York, thanks to Australian woman's idea

The Honorable Judge Hudson with Rachel Barnard at a young offenders' exhibition.

The Honorable Judge Hudson with Rachel Barnard at a young offenders' exhibition.

Young New Yorkers, a not-for-profit public art project, is the brainchild of south-east Queensland woman and former architect Rachel Barnard.

"Young New Yorkers offers diversion programs to 16 and 17-year-olds who are being tried as adults in the criminal justice system in New York State," she said during a recent visit to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

"On completion of the diversion program, participants usually have their criminal record dismissed and sealed, so they don't incur a lifelong criminal record.

"I know it sounds cliche but I just fell in love and I think I found quite by accident my life's work."

Judges in New York State have embraced the diversionary program as a sentencing option since 2012.

Ms Barnard said a youth may be sentenced to either the one-day or eight-week program for what's considered "entry level" offences such as fare evasion, graffiti or low-level assault.

Youths considered adults

New York is one of two states in America in which 16 and 17-year-olds are considered adults under the criminal justice system.

In Australia, Queensland is the only state in which a 17-year-old is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.

The Youth Advocacy Centre (YAC) has been lobbying the Queensland Government to have that changed.

But in the meantime, Brisbane-based barrister and YAC chair Damien Atkinson said because courts had the power to sentence an offender to diversionary programs instead of jail, there was definitely a place for a Young New Yorker-type program in Queensland.

"There'd be lots of young people who rejoice in creativity and when they learn the positive relationships and the skills that they do through Rachel's programs, that will see them hopefully go onto bigger and better things and take them away from offending," he said.

"The more programs and options we have for young people the better chance we have of making sure that they don't enter the adult criminal system."

Mr Atkinson said the challenge of bringing such a program to fruition in Queensland would be engaging the right artists, funding partners and then convincing the government that it would be a viable sentencing option.

"We would also want to work closely with the Murri community because so many of their people are affected, both here [in south-east Queensland] and up north," he said.

Sunshine Coast-based Aboriginal artist Jandamarra Cadd agreed.

Mr Cadd recently spoke out about his own experience after the ABC aired child abuse allegations in a Northern Territory detention centre.

The multi-award winning artist and Archibald Prize finalist said he turned to art after time spent in juvenile detention.

"Art gave me a voice I felt I didn't have before," he said.

For the full article on ABC Sunshine Coast, click here.