Photos by Mansura Khanam

We met Shawntiara in Kings County Criminal Court, where she was facing adult criminal charges, a lifelong criminal record, and heartbreaking collateral consequences that place lifelong constraints on opportunities for employment, higher education, student loans, affordable housing, and other benefits. “I tried to play it cool, but I have to admit to you that I was really scared,”Shawntiara said of her experience being arrested.

Photos by Mansura Khanam

Shawntiara was enrolled in Young New Yorkers' first all-women's 8-Week Diversion Program, an arts-based transformative justice program. "The teachers in the YNY workshop give support to all the students, and they are helpful and loving. I've changed the way that I deal with certain conflicts now because I know that I have choices." Shawntiara was a brave and generous member of our class. As part of the curriculum, she developed a public art project that would raise awareness around gun violence in her neighborhood of Brownsville. She pointed out that gun violence is not just a Brownsville problem, but a New York problem, and she dreams of a future where everyone in Brownsville (and New York) is safe from gun violence.


Thanks to your ongoing support of Young New Yorkers, Shawntiara, and many 16- and 17-year-olds like her, have avoided adult sentencing, incarceration within an adult population, a lifelong criminal record, and heart-breaking collateral consequences.

This year we ask you to partner with us to raise $25,000 to fund one of our 8-Week Arts Diversion Programs, at the end of which our participants have their adult criminal charges dismissed and sealed. Every $2,500 we raise together covers another young person in our program. Every gift, big and small, counts. Give the most precious gift this holiday season—a future full of possibilities for our young New Yorkers!

Photo by Mansura Khanam

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