The Need For FLY & Results

The Need for FLY

The United States incarcerates more children than any other country in the world. As many as 10,000 kids in the Bay Area are arrested and placed on probation every year.

Most youth involved in the juvenile justice system have experienced significant trauma such as physical or sexual abuse, violence against themselves, or witnessing violence against family members. They also have other key risk factors such as involvement with child welfare services (including foster care), living in a single-parent home, and having a parent in prison.

Youth of color represent more than 90% of FLY’s clients. Nationwide, youth of color are far more likely to be arrested and incarcerated than white youth, and this trend has actually been growing in recent decades. LGBQ/GNCT youth, youth with disabilities, and youth with uncertain immigration status are also disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system.

Youth incarceration comes at an enormous cost to society—an average of about $285,000 per year per incarcerated youth in California, with numbers much higher here in the Bay Area.

Unfortunately, the majority of kids who are released from the juvenile justice system just go back in again. In addition, incarcerated kids are much more likely to end up in jail as adults.

FLY’s Solution

At FLY we believe that all our children deserve a chance to become more than their past mistakes. We are dedicated to interrupting the pipeline to prison for youth and supporting them on their path to healthy, free, and productive lives. We educate young people about the laws that affect them, support them to become leaders in their communities, and give them positive mentors and role models. 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.

Where FLY Works

FLY operates in cities across Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties. We serve youth in locked facilities, in schools, and in the community.


Year after year our programs achieve consistent results such as:

  • 80% or more of youth report FLY has:
    • Inspired them to change
    • Helped them develop skills and confidence to make change possible
    • Given them hope for the future
    • Provided them with a positive adult role model, and
    • Caused them to change their behavior, making them less likely to break the law

Additionally in our Leadership Training Program each year:

  • 70-80% of our youth do not sustain a new charge during their program year
  • 60-80% of eligible high school seniors earn their high school diplomas or GEDs

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