Founded in 2000, Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) is an award-winning nonprofit serving Bay Area youth impacted by the justice system. FLY serves more than 2,000 youth ages 11-25 throughout the Bay Area each year. We offer programs in four Bay Area Counties, and advocate at local and state levels to disrupt the pipeline to prison.
Our programs connect young people with positive mentors and role models, promote their understanding of the law and their rights, and support them to become leaders among their peers and in their communities.
FLY participates in local and state level advocacy work to change policies and practices that sustain the pipeline to prison. Together with our young people, we also help our justice systems become more just, humane, and equitable. As a result, FLY increases safety and decreases the costs and consequences of crime.
FLY is led by President and CEO Ali Knight, while FLY’s Founder, Christa Gannon continues to serve the agency in a formal Founder role.
There is a pipeline to prison that funnels young people into the criminal justice system. Oftentimes this cycle begins in schools. Once a young person has entered this pipeline it is difficult to escape and the likelihood of ending up in prison as an adult is magnified.
This is especially true for youth of color, students with disabilities, histories of poverty, abuse or neglect. These students would likely benefit from resources, but are isolated, punished and pushed out.
Nearly 1/3 of K-12 students in the United States attend schools that have police officers, but do not staff counselors, nurses, or social workers.
– Vera Institute
Time in juvenile hall makes it much more likely a young person will end up in adult prison and begin a cycle of incarceration that they cannot break.
Racism and Discrimination in the Justice System
The overwhelming majority of young people involved in the juvenile justice system have been youth of color.
of FLY youth are youth of color
Black youth are 9 times, latinx are 3-6 times
more likely to be stopped, arrested, adjudicated, and kept in custody than white youth in California and nationally
Young Black adults who have an encounter with law enforcement in their early teens are
11 times more likely
to be arrested by age 20 than other black adults without that history
Youth of color are far more likely to be arrested, incarcerated, fail probation, and be confined to adult jails and prisons than their white peers.
We believe this is because the racism embedded in our society is mirrored—or even magnified—in the juvenile justice system. FLY has a strong commitment to racial equity in our systems and communities.
1/3 of youth
in the juvenile justice system has a disability qualifying them for special education services. 4 times the rate of youth in public schools.
in the system are more than two times larger than in the general population
Transition aged youth (TAY) 18-25
are overrepresented in the justice system
At 18 years of age
TAY lose access to many systems of care designed to provide services to youth despite scientific evidence that brains are not fully developed until the late twenties.
Youth are 3 times more likely to to recidivate when treated as adults, than those in juvenile systems
It’s time to imagine new possibilities for youth impacted by the justice system.
FLY youth are part of the solution! Young people who have lived experience within the justice system help us identify and advocate for innovative and effective solutions.
FLY supports reducing and eventually eliminating juvenile incarceration, transitioning instead to a community-based system of care aimed at wrapping support around youth using a strengths-based approach like the approach we employ at FLY.
These solutions include
Law Related Education
Youth Advocacy and Coaching
Education and Career Pathway Support
All of these solutions provide children with critical services, keep communities safe, and save taxpayer dollars. There are many better choices than incarceration to promote public health and safety, and to ensure all our kids have the opportunity to grow into healthy, free, and productive adults.
Each year, FLY’s young people make significant gains in reducing system involvement, attaining their educational goals, and developing the critical life skills and confidence they need to make changes in their lives. Together with our young people, we also help our juvenile justice systems become more just, humane, and equitable. As a result, FLY increases safety in our communities and decreases the costs and consequences of crime.
We own our work and take responsibility for our behavior and impact. We also name and repair mistakes when our intent doesn’t match our impact. Both are vital to earning and maintaining the trust of our youth, stakeholders, and each other.
We are passionate, creative, and relentless in working to overcome challenges and obstacles. We are also committed to being authentic and acting in integrity so that we can show up as the best version of ourselves for our kids, our community, and each other.
We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person and their lived experience. We demonstrate respect through humility, attentive listening, an attitude of gratitude, and being deeply present with each other in whatever we are doing.
Equitable and Just
We recognize that equity starts with our internal policies, practices, and commitment to our culture. Engaging in this continuous work within FLY strengthens our commitment to identifying the root causes of inequity in the education and juvenile justice systems, and to helping rebuild those systems to be more effective, humane, and just.
At FLY, we commit to deep, authentic, unconditional care and empathy for each other and all those in our community. We believe that everyone deserves to be seen, appreciated, and celebrated for the value they bring.
We are adaptive so that we can respond to the needs of our youth, and we challenge conventional thinking when it will make our communities stronger. Because we strive for continuous learning, we will try new ideas with the understanding that they may, at times, result in failures that we can embrace in order to improve and grow.
We embody a contagious, strength-based, forward-looking approach to our work, even in the most challenging times. With our optimism, we build bridges between youth and the systems that impact them in order to heal the wounds of injustice.
We are guided by the voices of our youth and see them as the experts regarding their own experiences. By partnering with our youth, we are a more accountable and effective organization because their needs inform and influence our values, our model, and our vision for justice.
By 2030, through partnering with young people, communities, and systems, FLY will help dismantle California’s pipeline to prison, equip 30,000 juvenile-justice and at-risk youth to transform their lives, and strengthen services for marginalized youth in California and beyond. Going forward, we’ll organize our work around four pathways to success, which we’ve identified in Imagine 2030, our strategic growth plan:
FLY’s missionis to partner with youthto unlock their potential, disrupt the pipeline to prison, and advance justice in Californiaand beyond.
When FLY was founded in 2000, we were guided by the input of youth in the juvenile system to create programs grounded in legal education, mentoring, and leadership training. Over the past 22 years, we have continuously sought the input of young people impacted by the justice system to grow and evolve our program offerings. We seek to elevate the voices of young people to make our systems more equitable, just, and humane. We are on a trajectory that aspires to move from service for some to justice for all.
Awards & recognition
Recognized nationally, regionally, and locally
With an innovative head & heart approach and consistently outstanding results, FLY has received local, national and state recognition for our work!
2022 Candid Transparency
2021 California Nonprofit of the Year
FLY was awarded as a part of the Juvenile Justice Gender Responsive Task Force in Santa Clara County for the 2022 Bold Steps for Children Award
FLY’s founder was one of the first in the United States to receive the Ashoka Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship in the field of juvenile justice
James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for developing powerful and effective solutions to address problems of statewide importance in the field of juvenile crime
FLY’s President & CEO received the 49ers Frontline Hero of the Game Award
FLY was selected by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to participate in their three-year PropelNext Initiative to build organizational capacity for growth and scale
City of San Jose and County of Santa Clara Human Rights Awards
Santa Clara County School Board’s Association Glenn W. Hoffmann Exemplary Program Award for reducing school violence
Community Partner Award from Stanford University
Jefferson Award for Public Service from CBS 5 News
Excellence in Volunteer Management Award from the Volunteer Center of San Mateo and San Francisco
Art of Living Foundation
Mary Bender Photography
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley
Lisa & Jason Clark
Congregation Beth Jacob & Irving Levin Jewish Center
Covenant Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto
The Department of Expansion
Facebook Community Fund
First Church of Redwood City, UCC
Golden Gate University
Golden State Warriors
Happy Valley Conference Center
Hispanic Heritage Foundation
Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto
MakeX Palo Alto
Metropolitan Education District
Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fremont
Mountain View/Los Altos Challenge Team
Moving Forward Education
Opportunity Youth Partnership
Platypus Wine Tours
Rotary Club of Milpitas
Rotary Club of Mountain View
Rotary Club of San Jose
San Francisco 49ers Foundation
San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose State University
Santa Clara Legal Professionals Association
Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University School of Law
South County Morgan Hill Courthouse
Stanford University Athletics
Sunnyvale Challenge Team
TheaterWorks Silicon Valley
University of San Francisco
University of San Francisco School of Law
Jose Uribe / Studio Four Photography
Paul & DeAnn Work
Vicki & Stephen Wynne
Adobe Employee Community Fund
Antioch Community Foundation
Applied Materials Foundation
The Barrios Trust
The Center at Sierra Health Foundation
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Fund for Shared Insight
Giants Community Fund
John & Marcia Goldman Foundation
Goodwin Family Memorial Trust
The Grove Foundation
Noble and Lorraine Hancock Family Foundation
Hopper-Dean Family Fund
The Intero Real Estate Foundation
International Women’s Forum Northern California
The Franklin and Catherine Johnson Foundation
Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Programs
The Krishnan-Shah Family Foundation
Stanley S. Langendorf Foundation
The John & Terry Levin Family Foundation
Learning By Giving Foundation
National Association of Theatre Owners of California/Nevada
The David & Lucile Packard Foundation
Palo Alto Community Fund
Palo Alto Weekly Community Fund
The Jay & Rose Phillips Foundation of California
Schultz Family Foundation
San Bruno Community Foundation
San Francisco 49ers Foundation
Leo M. Shortino Family Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silver Lake Foundation
Sobrato Family Foundation
Susan Crown Exchange
Tipping Point Community
The TK Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Wells Fargo Foundation
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation
Zellerbach Family Foundation
California Board of State and Community Corrections
California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
Contra Costa County Probation Department
San Mateo County:
Get Healthy San Mateo County
Office of Education
Santa Clara County:
Board of Supervisors
Office of Education
Social Services Agency
Office of Education
Milpitas Unified School District
Oakland Fund for Children and Youth
Redwood City Human Services Financial Assistance Program
Richmond Fund for Children and Youth
San José Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force
San José Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services
City of Union City
Cupertino Electric, Inc.
Fenwick & West LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Intero Real Estate Services Cupertino
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
San Francisco 49ers Foundation
Sereno Group Los Gatos
The Strickland Group
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Donate to FLY
FLY youth continually prove that they can avoid the pipeline to prison and change the course of their lives with the right support. Your contribution will bring FLY’s programs to more young people and help us ensure more just, humane, and effective treatment of youth in the juvenile justice system.