Our Programs

Young New Yorkers serves art-based diversion programs to young people in Brooklyn. We offer court-mandated Diversion Programs; a growing number of Community Programs; and frequent leadership-building programs for our graduates.

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Court-mandated Diversion Programs

1-Day Arts Diversion Program


A one-day court-mandated program for young people who have incurred a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT). The DAT-Y program generally occurs as a three-hour workshop with YNY staff and Teaching Artists, soon after sentencing. On completion of the program, participants appear in the courtroom (which is transformed into an exhibition of the participants’ artworks) once more to have their cases are dismissed and sealed.


The DAT-Y program is in coordination with the Kings County District Attorney, Department of Probation, Brooklyn Defender Services, Legal Aid Society and the Brooklyn Task Force & the American Bar Association’s Racial Justice Improvement Project. The program was recently featured in the New York Times.

8-Week Arts Diversion Program


An 8-week alternative sentencing program for 16–25-year-olds, who are classified as adults by New York State’s criminal justice system. Upon completion of the program, participants typically have their criminal charges sealed, leaving their young lives uninhibited by an adult criminal record. The program consists of weekly, three-hour, arts-based  workshops with weekly check-in calls and homework requirements.


Each workshop is framed by a relevant theme: community; choice; accountability; responsibility; contribution; leadership. These themes are explored, as they relate to each participant, in conversation with the group and through art exercises utilizing photography, video, illustration, and design, and culminate in a YNY Finale. The Finale is a public art project that has been designed and implemented by YNY participants, and that addresses a social issue that is important to them. Watch our 8-Week Diversion Program participants here


Community Programs

Community Programs are multi-week, voluntary programs, and revolve around a timely theme. We work with the Department of Probation, the Brooklyn Defender Services Immigration Unit, and other local organizations to enroll teens to these voluntary arts programs. This collaboration culminates in a public event and exhibition designed by the participants to create loving connections between individuals and groups, for the purpose of change.


Through our Community Programs, YNY provides a platform for young people to express their experiences with, and hopes for change in, the criminal justice system. Furthermore, YNY fosters a dialogue between young people and our criminal justice partners who are in a position to effect change.


Recent Community Programs: 


Asset Mapping in East New York with NeON Arts 

In partnership with NeON Arts | East New York. Read about this program here.


Transforming Futures: Exploring Empowering Responses to Gun Violence through Art and Design Thinking

In partnership with NeON Arts | Brownsville. Read about this program here, and about the final exhibition, "Love Letters to Brownsville," here


Transforming Future Geographies

This program debuted in May 2015, and gives space for youth facing immigration difficulties to advocate for themselves and for the issue of youth immigration. Read more here


Graduate Programs

We regularly run one-day programs for graduates of our formal programs. These programs allow our participants to continue developing their relationships with the Young New Yorkers community, and to develop positive peer mentoring skills. In many cases, graduates go on to become ambassadors and peer mentors for YNY.


Recently, graduates participated in a public art workshop called “Windows from Prison” at The New School; an interactive exhibition called SHATTERING with Brooklyn artist Gilf!; a portrait session with tintype photographer Robyn Hasty; and more.


Peer Mentors are YNY graduates from previous programs who take on leadership roles in subsequent programming. Peer Mentors attend all workshops and have the opportunity to share their comments, opinions, and suggestions with the group during the workshop debriefing with staff. 


YNY Graduate Ambassadors are graduates from our programs who join various YNY committees and teams to advocate for the programs and for issues that are important to them.