Neighborhood Benches (NB) is a small, grassroots organization devoted to educating young people from communities of color on leadership and good practices that break cycles of youth incarceration and violence. NB is designed to enter communities that are difficult to engage, and overlooked. Our model further develop leaders and practitioners while driving down violence and incarceration.
NEIGHBORHOOD BENCHES is an expansion of the current mentoring initiatives. Our innovative way for demonstrating impact makes it easier for our students to focus on leadership roles, educational studies, and next steps.
Provide students with one-on-one time that will fuel their interest for learning from your practice.
Putting the students to the test by providing opportunities to supervise others increases their understanding.
Challenge students innovative practices to locate and recruite other leaders through program design.
MEET THE DIRECTORS
Rena Brown, SIFI
Director of Education
Director of Projects
"The work is never easy, this is why you need a team of directors that are committed to the mission and values the patience it takes for this model to work."
-William M. Evans
Areas of Focus:
Click HERE to visit our programming site and learn more about the three level approach to the problems.
A key aim of Neighborhood Benches Initiatives is to reduce early exposure to violence and incarceration whenever possible and to utilize appropriate neighborhood interventions to mitigate the impact of the two.
Neighborhood Benches (NB) achieves this mission by engaging some of the hardest-to-reach people from underrepresented communities, and by implementing initiatives that teach young people to act as leaders for finding solutions and implementing them. The process and solutions are roadmaps for creating leadership and educational models for them to change behaviors, build community, and organize for positive change. It takes a special type of student that is willing to learn of ways to end youth violence and incarceration. NB identified these students, and through specialized learning strategies they are mentors and advocates.
By following up on community influencers and encouraging involvement, all which could be assessed.
Learning lessons from unique guys that are respected in their community.
A lesson plan is not sustainable until a social worker acknowledge the benefits.
Neighborhood Benches is modeling and leading the discussion on program culture and community fidelity. Our appraoch gathers information about the hood-culture and the narratives shaping community. With that information we are changing the direction of the discussion by better understanding the people we want to service, mentor, support and learn from.
Immediate upon their release, they got to work sharing knowledge and ideas.
Real plans to change the narrative must include the young voices in the room.
More and more experienced people are returning to community everyday. These same people have been expressing their desire to help community as a resource, but doors are repeatedly closed in their face. This is because returning citizens are often seen as participant and not a resource. As it is told, the amount of time back into community does not "qualify" them to be a needed resource. Much of this is based on the many hurdles (Read more here). Keeping in mind, a resource is a source or supply from which a benefit is produced and that has some utility and worth. These people never stopped being a resource, it is just possible they were away in jail or prison, and for those who did not enter the two... it is possible they relocate as a form of healing. Because of these road blocks we have less experienced people utilizing their knowledge as a practice. Being a resource to underrepresented communities where mentors are needed the most to help at-risk youth is our focus. The same resources and practice that is proven to save our young peolple from violence and incarceration is what we are highlighting. Neighborhood Benches started providing the platform that facilitates a discussion around how we influence involvement, prepare for change, and educate on the practices needed for returning community members to become strong mentors. Many see NB as a supported community-based re-entry program. But the truth of the matter is, by providing this support and opportunity immediately upon their return to community, we are keeping them focused and preparing them for hire. Read more about similar strategies in the Mentoring Former Prisoners Guide P/PV. Just keep in mind NB is in community and working with those who never expeirenced jail or prison.
Hiring returning citizens keeps communities safer by reducing recidivism. Studies have shown that returning citizens are less likely to reoffend when they are employed. By giving them a fair chance to be considered for jobs, employers can help keep their communities safer and potentially reduce crime rates. Learn moreHERE.
Philosophy in our design
It is important for our team to take part in the transforming of people and community. Throughout the various activities you are seeing... each student is provided with the opportunity to work with our young people and learn from the experience. This is a part of our deliberate practice.
Influence, Preparation and Educate...
Enjoy our NSTP-DM experience:
Our community transformation is uniquely different. The ENTIRE COMMUNITY is important to this process.
William M. Evans is a Restorative Justice Practitioner who specializes in Strategic Urban Leadership Development (SULD) and three levels of healing to transform systems impacted individuals into people that model changed behaviors and rebuild community. William is skilled in identifying leaders and using practice-based evidence to design programs that transform communities and make leaders socially conscious.
Prior to the development of Neighborhood Benches, William worked with the United Federation of Teachers, NYC Community Learning Schools Initiative as the Program & Grants Assistant as an member of Public Allies NY and the Interim Operations Supervisor on Rikers Island for the Fortune Society’s Individualized Corrections Achievement Network (I-CAN) training Discharge Planners. William is a Bronxite determined to improve the life of young people.
As a result of his drive he enrolled at Yeshiva University during 2019 for his PhD as a way to further develop his practice. During the same year William was 1 of the 34 talented winners from a pool of 2,574 applications from applicants working in 161 countries. William is an Echoing Green Fellow (under Black Males Achievement) working to scale this model, and improve his leadership as the Founder & President of Neighborhood Benches. William continues to utilize his personal and professional experiences to drive Neighborhood Benches forward.