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Young New Yorkers (YNY) diverts young people away from the criminal legal system and partners with participants using their creative voices to transform the ways young people get arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced in New York City. We do so through art and advocacy programs, both short- and long-term, specifically:

  • a one- two- or three-day Restorative Arts Diversion (RAD) program,  

  • Graduate Leadership programs, and

  • the YNY Fellowship.

YNY's primary diversion programs allow young people to avoid a criminal record, process their involvement with the criminal legal system, and think creatively about their choices. We also work with young people long-term so that their voices and actions can positively transform the criminal legal system. Through public art exhibits and events, YNY aims to humanize the culture of courtrooms, allowing participants to be seen beyond their rap sheets

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our programs have transitioned to virtual workshops. We look forward to resuming in-person programming as soon as it is safe to do so



Restorative Arts Diversion is Young New Yorkers’ arts-based program for young people facing criminal charges in New York City criminal and family court systems. We are the preferred referral from court professionals.


Our RAD program consists of one-, two-, or three-day structured restorative art sessions. RAD sessions are taught by teaching artists including YNY graduates and other credible messengers who have experience with the criminal legal  system. During sessions, participants create aspirational self-portraits in which they collage photographs of themselves that represent their personal strengths and goals. 


Long-form RAD programs culminate in courtroom exhibitions, where we invite police officers, judges, and lawyers, to “re-meet” participants in a new context, and see young New Yorkers beyond their rap sheets. For the young people, this is an opportunity to use their art to advocate for criminal legal reform and be seen for their many facets, strengths, and aspirations.


YNY organizes RAD workshops for approximately 300 participants each year.

Re-imagining and Recreating Experiences (R.A.R.E)

R.A.R.E is an arts-based diversion program offered to young adults, as an opportunity to explore time, space, energy, and community, through the transformative practice of art.


YNY’s teaching artists use the power of art and art-making, to help participants visualize the racial, social, and economic implications of their arrest, further contextualizing the circumstances influencing the decisions leading

to their current charge.


Participants will learn from leading artists in the field of contemporary arts and use their voices to develop a cumulative art piece to display in a public exhibition at the commencement of the program, with our community partners, MoMA PS1.



Upon completing their RAD session mandate, YNY invites participants to join graduate programs. Graduate programs provide a community for grads to deepen their understanding of restorative practices, engage in various art projects, and develop new ideas for RAD programs.


Our graduate programs build and engage young people’s personal, professional and mentorship skills, such as public-speaking, advocacy, program design, and more over the long-term. YNY grads are paid for their participation and sharing their wisdom that informs our work.


Our graduate programs engage approximately 50 young people each year, and many graduates have been working with us for years. All graduates receive pay for their participation.



YNY offers a paid Fellowship to active grads who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to and passion for transforming the criminal legal system. Fellows engage with a formal curriculum and meet monthly to discuss crucial issues within the criminal legal system, and what it means to be leaders in their communities. 


Fellows are invited to participate in weekly YNY staff meetings to share insights into how YNY can evolve as an organization. Fellows also co-facilitate RAD sessions providing peer mentorship for new participants, and helping new them to investigate their personal choices while advocating for legal systems change. 


The fellowship hosts monthly trainings on topics such as storytelling and facilitation, provides the opportunity for fellows to get involved in YNY advocacy work and to facilitate RAD workshops. Our current and first-ever YNY Graduate Fellowship cohort is leading the creation of two youth-lead advocacy groups addressing criminal legal reform and gun violence. 


There are currently 12 YNY Fellows.