Isaiah’s Story

Isaiah finished probation, graduated from high school, and has a steady job. He credits FLY and his mentor, Analisa, with giving him the support he needed to push through.  

Analisa can’t say enough good things about Isaiah after finishing their year together as a FLY mentor/mentee match.

Isaiah is mature far beyond his age. He’s super respectful, really positive, and able to engage with anyone. I can put him in a room of complete strangers and he’ll make friends with every one of them!

This is what everyone at FLY sees when we’re fortunate enough to spend time with Isaiah. But last year, Analisa first saw a troubled youth trying to overcome serious family challenges and a juvenile justice record.

From a young age, Isaiah has felt responsible for his mom and younger siblings. When he was 13, they moved to the south side of San Jose. On his first day of middle school, he was attacked by a group of kids. Other youth came to help him and after that, he began to hang out with them. Although they offered Isaiah some protection and friendship, they eventually led him into trouble with the law.

While Isaiah was on probation, the FLY Mentor Program matched him with a volunteer mentor, Analisa. A key aspect of FLY mentoring is consistent caring attention. For some youth, their FLY mentors are among the few, or are possibly the only, positive adults in their lives. From the beginning, Isaiah appreciated that Analisa and their FLY case manager, Carmen, were always there for him.

Isaiah has told me I’m like a sister to him. He says FLY has given him a family and stability he doesn’t really have otherwise. When things aren’t going well, he feels he can always reach out to FLY to pick him back up.

Today everyone can see Isaiah as the accomplished and inspiring young man he is. He finished probation and even graduated from high school two months early. One of the most important measures of the success of programs like FLY is high school graduation. National research data shows that juvenile incarceration can decrease the chances of high school graduation by up to 39%. By supporting youth through high school, FLY mentors and case managers help them get out of the pipeline to prison and on the path to a healthy, productive life.

Isaiah is a really motivated person now. When he puts his mind to something, you just need to give him a little push and he’ll run with it and make it happen.

Isaiah’s had a stable job for the better part of a year now. He also graduated from the Joven Noble program of CommUniverCity San Jose and was recently offered an internship to work with the program. Joven Noble is a rite-of-passage leadership group that allows youth to process the traumas of life, and assists them with the transition into manhood. Several FLY youth have been through this transformative program. Now it will give Isaiah the chance to give back to his community through service to other young men.

I want to say thank you for allowing Analisa in my life. I never thought someone would go out of their way for me like she does. She’s the best thing that has ever happened to me!

Analisa is very quick to point out that mentoring changed her for better, too.

As much as I wanted come in and change the life of a youth, Isaiah has given me a true purpose in life and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I’m so grateful to have been able to witness all of his accomplishments. I hope our story inspires others by showing how amazing our youth are when they are given the safe space, unconditional love, and support to be their best.