FLY began with one staff member and a handful of volunteers serving youth in a few neighborhoods in San Jose. We are now serving youth in 4 Bay area counties, and advocating at local and state level!
FLY’s core programs were originally envisioned by youth who were going to spend most of their teenage years, or their entire lives, behind bars. When they discussed their experiences with FLY’s founder, Christa Gannon, their statements often began with “If only…” and ended with “I wouldn’t be here.”
“If only I had known how much trouble I could get into”
“If only I had been given a chance to change”
“If only someone had really cared about me”
The youth suggested ways to prevent other kids from ending up incarcerated:
- Teach kids about the law and consequences of crime so they can learn to make better choices
- Give them a chance to do something good for their communities
- Give them positive adult role models who will be there for them and can help them change their lives
Christa started a two-year pilot program based on those youth ideas, and research on best practices in youth development and crime prevention. The pilot was so successful that when it ended in 2000, she incorporated the project into a nonprofit. The original ideas of those incarcerated youth remain the foundation of FLY to this day.
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