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. At FLY we believe all our children deserve a chance to become more than their past mistakes.
Research based and outcome driven, FLY’s programs inspire and empower youth in the juvenile justice system, or youth at-risk of systems involvement to alter the trajectory of their lives by helping them identify, build upon, and re-direct their strengths.
Since 2000, FLY has helped more than 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.
FLY’s vision is that our most at-risk and disadvantaged youth will transform from juvenile delinquents into positive community leaders, a community of people will support them in that process and our local juvenile justice systems will provide more effective and humane services.
FLY’s 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
In 1996 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, Christa asked the youth to help her design services that they felt would prevent juvenile crime. They recommended developing a course to help troubled youth understand the law, giving at-risk youth positive role models, and creating opportunities for youth on probation to do something positive for their communities. In 1998, Christa received the George Soros Foundation award, a two-year fellowship to pilot the ideas, allowing her to bolster 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, Christa incorporated the project into a nonprofit.
When FLY began, it had one staff member, five volunteers, 25 clients and a budget of $32,500. Today, Christa serves as FLY’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer with 46 staff, 200 volunteers, and a budget of $4.5 million, FLY serves more than 1,000 probation and at-risk youth, and 1,000 middle school youth at risk of system involvement. To this day the bedrock of what FLY provides is what our incarcerated youth first suggested – a range of services including legal education, leadership training, and one-on-one mentoring.