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About Fly

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What we do

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.

Learn More About the Fly Story

Watch “Why I FLY” featuring FLY’s President and CEO, Ali Knight

The Need for Fly and Results


The U.S. has the highest imprisonment rate of children in the world: nearly 2,000 of them are arrested every day, however recidivism data clearly shows that youth incarceration is not effective.

Nearly 2 times

the average U.S. rate, California incarcerates more young people than any other state


Annual cost to incarcerate 1 youth in California

$200 Million

Annual cost of juvenile detention and probation programs in California (2019)

Two kids smiling in a telephone booth
Two kids sitting on a park bench

children are prosecuted, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults each year

Up to 66%

of youth who have been incarcerated do not return to school after being released from custody

Increased Risk

Incarceration puts young people at risk of physical and psychological abuse, sexual assault, and suicide

Learn More by viewing FLY’s Theory of Change

The Pipeline to Prison

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.

A group of teenagers standing in front of a "congrats grad" sign
14,000,000 students

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.

Two kids eating food out of a styrofoam box

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.

LGBTQ+ Children

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 treated as adults are

3 times more likely

to recidivate than those in juvenile systems

Fly’s Solution

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 

Civic Engagement 

Prosocial Events 

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.


Studies show that young people are up to

10 times less likely

to face later system involvement when they have access to community-based alternatives to incarceration like FLY.

On average, completion of a FLY program has the following impact:

Over 90%

of FLY youth do not recidivate or sustain new charges during their program year

Over 80%

achieve their educational goals such as graduating, advancing to the next grade, or enrolling in post-secondary school

Over 90%

of youth report they have hope for their future

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.

Read FLY’s 2023 Annual Report for data about the most recent fiscal year.

Two kids posing for a photo, smiling and leaning up against a car

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.

Group of people celebrating a woman's graduation

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.

Group of people touching fists in a circle

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.

Two kids flexing
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.

Two people wearing masks holding their arms towards each other making the shape of a heart

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.

Two women pointing to a whiteboard

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.

Three youth looking up at a carnival ride

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.

Group of people posing on a zip line

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.

Imagine 2030

Group of people playing tug of war

FLY’s Goal for Justice by 2030

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:

Learn More About Imagine 2030


Expand services in our existing communities and in at least one more counties in California

Group of kids standing in front of Alcatraz
Spark Change

Move deeper into local systems change work and create a state-wide platform for the engagement of our youth in criminal justice reform

Group of friends smiling and holding a pillow

Elevate the field of juvenile justice through training, technical assistance, affiliate opportunities, speaking appearances, and more

Two people smiling while working at a craft table
Employ Data

Create a body of evidence about our work that will influence our field and key policymakers

Careers & Internships

Are you interested in joining the FLY team? We are more than a team, we are a community!

FLY has a variety of positions and internships in Programs, Operations, Talent, Finance, Administration, Evaluation & Learning, Policy, and Development across the Bay Area.

Visit our Careers and Internships page to learn more!

Press Kit

FLY team members all wearing black t-shirts posed for a group photo

For questions, photos, or interview requests, contact Tracy Genica at

FLY’s mission is to partner with youth to unlock their potential, disrupt the pipeline to prison, and advance justice in California and 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.

& 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!

Group of people at an ice rink

2022-24 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

Two people walking away with the FLY logo on the back of their hoodie

Amazon Smile
Art of Living Foundation
AT&T Pioneers
Mary Bender Photography
Beyond Emancipation
Brian Bostwick-Smith
Elaine Bostwick-Smith
Joe Cassin
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley
Lisa & Jason Clark
Congregation Beth Jacob & Irving Levin Jewish Center
Covenant Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto
Julia Cuevas
Carol Dressler
The Department of Expansion
Facebook Community Fund
First Church of Redwood City,  UCC
Golden Gate University
Golden State Warriors
Happy Valley Conference Center
Tonnie Harvey
Hispanic Heritage Foundation
Scott Janulewicz
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
Oakland Athletics
Opportunity Youth Partnership
Platypus Wine Tours
Susie Rivera
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
Marissa Silver
South County Morgan Hill Courthouse
Stanford University
Stanford University Athletics
Sunnyvale Challenge Team
Robert Talbot
TheaterWorks Silicon Valley
Julie Tondreau
University of San Francisco
University of San Francisco School of Law
Jose Uribe / Studio Four Photography
Shawn Viaggi
Paul & DeAnn Work
Vicki & Stephen Wynne


Adobe Employee Community Fund
Antioch Community Foundation
Applied Materials Foundation
Argosy Foundation
Atkinson Foundation
The Barrios Trust
The Center at Sierra Health Foundation
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Fund for Shared Insight
Giants Community Fund
Gilead Foundation
John & Marcia Goldman Foundation
Goodwin Family Memorial Trust
The Grove Foundation
Noble and Lorraine Hancock Family Foundation
Heising-Simons Foundation
Highway Community
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
Koshland Foundation
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
Quest Foundation
Schultz Family Foundation
San Bruno Community Foundation
San Francisco 49ers Foundation
Sharks Foundation
Leo M. Shortino Family Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silver Lake Foundation
Sobrato Family Foundation
Stand Together
Surge Institute
Susan Crown Exchange
Tipping Point Community
The TK Foundation
UPS 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
Probation Department
Sheriff’s Office

Santa Clara County:

Board of Supervisors
Office of Education
Probation Department
Social Services Agency

Alameda County:

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


Catto’s Graphics
Cupertino Electric, Inc.
Dome Construction
Evolution Trainers
Fenwick & West LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Gordon Biersch
Harrell Remodeling
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Intero Real Estate Services Cupertino
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
MOD Pizza
NetScout Systems
San Francisco 49ers Foundation
Sereno Group Los Gatos
The Strickland Group
UPS Oakland
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati