Fresh Lifelines for Youth or “FLY’s” mission is to prevent juvenile crime and incarceration through legal education, leadership training, and one-on-one mentoring.
Research based and outcome driven, FLY’s programs inspire and empower youth in the juvenile justice system, and youth at-risk for system involvement to alter the trajectory of their lives by helping them identify, build upon, and re-direct their strengths.
Over the last 10 years, FLY has helped nearly 10,000 marginalized and under-served youth gain the life skills and character needed to avoid the criminal justice system and transform into positive community leaders.
At FLY we care deeply about inspiring youth on probation and youth at risk of entering the justice system to build on their strengths and alter the trajectory of their lives. We actively build communities of positive adults willing to support these youth in their transformation process. And, we partner with our local juvenile justice systems to bring the youth voice to their policy discussions, helping the system itself be more effective.
FLY has the following six core organizational values:
- Care- displayed towards clients, co-workers, stakeholders, and volunteers
- Commitment- to hard work, having fun, and the display of unconditional and nonjudgmental love
- Respect- for diversity, creativity, inclusion of different people, backgrounds, thoughts, and experiences
- Responsibility and accountability
- Change- willingness to change ourselves, change minds, change lives, change systems, and be a change agent
FLY began in 1996 when a Stanford law student, Christa Gannon, helped start a volunteer education program connecting law students to youth incarcerated in Santa Clara County’s Juvenile Hall. At the end of the program, she asked the youth to help her design services that they felt would prevent juvenile crime. They recommended developing a course to help troubled youth consciously follow the law, providing at-risk youth with role models, and creating opportunities for youth on probation to do something positive for their communities. In 1998, the George Soros Foundation awarded Ms. Gannon, now FLY’s Founder and Executive Director, a two-year fellowship to pilot the ideas. Bolstering the youth’s ideas with best practices in youth development and crime prevention, their suggestions were so successful that when the fellowship ended in 2000, she incorporated the project into a nonprofit.
When FLY began, it had one staff member, five volunteers, 25 clients and a budget of $32,500. Now, each year with 50 staff and 150 volunteers and a budget of $4.2 million, FLY serves nearly 1,000 probation and high risk youth, and 1,000 middle school youth at risk of system involvement. To this day the bedrock of what we provide is what our incarcerated youth first suggested – a range of services including: legal education, one-on-one mentoring, and leadership training.