org focus friday: CHOOSE 180

CHOOSE 180 transforms the lives of youth and young adults by partnering with institutional leaders, connecting them with community, empowering them with choice, and teaching them the skills necessary to avoid engagement with the criminal legal  system. CHOOSE 180 envisions a future where youthful behavior is decriminalized and young people are offered restorative practices in lieu of traditional prosecution. 

CHOOSE 180 empowers young people at risk of engagement with the criminal legal system to choose positive change in their own life, avoid court and legal prosecution, and ultimately to realize their full potential. We are actively creating a future where young people receive necessary support in lieu of traditional forms of punishment. Partnering strategically with community as well as  institutional leaders like prosecutors and school administration, CHOOSE 180 acts as a catalyst for  institutional change on complex social issues such as the school-to-prison-pipeline and the punitive  legal system.

CHOOSE 180 offers several programs designed to empower young adults to choose positive changes for their own lives.

The programs they offer include:

Diversion Workshops: CHOOSE 180 Workshops are a half-day experience that engage young people in critical moments and empowers them to make positive changes in their lives. At the workshop young people are connected to community members that share similar experiences through the power of story. Together they work in small groups to identify the behaviors that have brought them to this critical moment, what has kept them from the path of positive change, and how they can commit to CHOOSE 180. Upon successful completion of the workshop the participants avoid having a criminal record as the alleged offense that lead to their referral is dismissed.

Court and Community Navigation: CHOOSE 180 is part of an innovative plan to serve young people who have been accused of committing felony offenses in King County. Our Community Navigator walks participants through the court process and acts as their advocate, helping them make it to meetings, develop a plan for success, and supporting them when they get stuck. At the end of six months of engagement, youth who have demonstrated a commitment to their 180 will have the opportunity to get their case reduced or dismissed. This work is done in partnership with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Court, and the Department of Public Defense.

School-Based Diversion: CHOOSE 180 offers a five-week restorative practice to youth at risk of suspension and expulsion in middle and high schools. In effort to disrupt the school to prison pipeline, their method keeps youth in school and builds intentional relationships with campus leaders while teaching them the skills necessary to prevent future disciplinary actions. 

Summer Internships: CHOOSE 180 offers paid summer employment for participants referred from their intervention and prevention programs. These internships are intended to help identify potential career interests, build resumes, meet community leaders and entrepreneurs, and gain experience working in a professional setting. After the eight-week session, interns present their entrepreneurial ideas at a celebration for participants and their families, CHOOSE 180 leaders and other members of the community.

CHOOSE 180 also offers counseling services for young adults to support them in becoming emotionally strong and healthy versions of themselves, no matter the challenges. Through working with a counselor, young adults are able to discover new ways to solve problems and improve habits, working towards addressing emotional pain, processing past experiences, and finding relief from difficult symptoms.

CHOOSE 180’s programs have been incredibly successful at rerouting youth away from the criminal legal system. In 2019, they were able to ensure:

  • 394 cases dismissed
  • 44 students stayed in school
  • 48 youth and their families received court navigation support
  • 100% of participants have access to aftercare
  • 87% of CHOOSE 180 workshop participants have not reoffended
  • Program participants who remain in school are 86% more likely to graduate

This past week, CHOOSE 180 hosted their ‘Evening of Choice’ virtual event, a night filled with inspirational stories of transformation and positive change, to request community support to continue ensuring the success of their programming. You can watch the event here.

And if you’re able, please consider donating to their mission. A one-time — or even better, a monthly commitment — helps ensure that they can continue diverting young adults away from the criminal punishment system. You can donate to their efforts here.

Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICHOOSE180

Follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ichoose180/



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