How Many Chances Does AFJ Give Our Youth? As Many as They Need.

Success doesn’t always happen the way we’d like for our youth. And sometimes, it starts out as a failure. But we don’t give up.

Success doesn’t always happen the way we’d like for our youth.  And sometimes, it starts out as a failure.  But we don’t give up.

With Antoine, Avenues for Justice (AFJ)’s Executive Director Angel Rodriguez beat enormous odds to get him a reduced sentence with a sealed record so that his incarceration won’t count against him. But Antoine still had to go to prison. 

Even behind bars, AFJ stays in touch with Antoine to help him turn his life around. We also turned to his family, now living under a sentence of worry and fear. Antoine’s mother, Candice, who supports the family with a disability check, was especially concerned that Antoine’s younger brother, 14-year-old Laurenzo, needed help to keep him from following in Antoine’s footsteps. 

So AFJ welcomed Laurenzo into our long-term prevention program for youth who are at-risk for arrest, available to any young person who asks for our help - usually 200 each year. In the prevention program, at-risk youth receive the same services for education, employment, and personal growth as our ATI youth, with the exception of court advocacy. 

For 14-year-old Laurenzo, our prevention program has already changed his life with:

  • TECHNOLOGY: a laptop to join our online Life Skills workshops
  • TUTORING: multiple tutors to help him with his homework
  • MENTORSHIP: a mentor from Capital III Partners, via AFJ’s new HIRE UP corporate partnership program

More recently, AFJ helped the family catch up on their rent, thanks to generous support from United Way in partnership with BET, and the Federation for Protestant Welfare Agencies.

At this writing, Antoine might be home in time for Thanksgiving and join his younger brother at AFJ to establish healthy socialization and goals, further his education, and learn job skills.

Candice wrote to AFJ’s co-founder, Angel Rodriguez, this week, on the impact AFJ has had on her family:


You stopped my son from hanging out with gang members. He has much more respect for me and wants to be more of an example to his brother. My son regrets the bad choices he has made in his life. Angel, you and your programs have kept my son alive. Now he looks forward to living his life. He has changed for the better.

My younger child has not gotten himself into any trouble so far. But I know you and your program has been a blessing for him too. He loves your workshop, works well with your tutors and sponsor. This keeps him out of trouble and busy. He lets me know that he can’t wait to start working.

Angel, I bow down to you for saving my sons lives and really taking the time to guide them in the right direction. Please stay safe.

Sincerely Yours,