New York is soon to become the nation’s only state to charge arrested 16-year-olds as adults. These kids, if convicted, will carry adult felonies with them for their entire lives, severely limiting their education, employment, and social opportunities. The policy also puts these minors at incredible risk of recidivism, or returning to incarceration. Recidivism amongst minors not only impairs the lives of those incarcerated, but also inflicts a significant financial burden on the City; a burden that is divvied up and charged, in some sum, to each and every New Yorker.
After witnessing the effects of this injustice firsthand, Jordyn Lexton and Ann Bickerton founded Drive Change. A New York City-based startup, Drive Change will operate food trucks that hire and train formerly incarcerated youths to re-enter the work force and actively participate in their communities. According to its website, Drive Change works by a three-pronged approach: first, the business provides useful and transferable skills to benefit the youths in any future employment endeavors. Second, the work is paid, aiding the young people in improving their life situations, and third, group-work and leadership development is provided to generate self esteem and work towards the goal of lowering recidivism rates.
The Drive Change program runs in three phases per year. Employment teams consist of eight to ten program participants in each phase. This format sets up every truck to hire thirty participants per year. In addition, the mobile nature of the vehicle allows Drive Change to access various neighborhoods and boroughs of New York City.
Drive Change provides an example of concerned citizens assessing a dire situation and creating a program tailored to rectify it. The conscientious thought behind Drive Change led it to win The New Challenge 2013 sponsored by The New School. As a business that aims not only to reduce youth recidivism rates but also to increase the age of adult criminal responsibility, food trucks for social justice is equipped with the tools and ideas to engender real change within New York City.
For more information, visit www.drivechangenyc.org, or their IndieGogo campaign which aims the project at a fall 2013 launch, and track its progress on twitter by following @DriveChangeNYC