Youth Engagement

CJJ places a high priority on youth involvement in juvenile justice reform.  Youth members offer a unique perspective. Often, youth leaders best understand what policies, programs and changes will be most effective. The youth voice is vital to CJJ’s mission and students are an especially integral part of CJJ’s coalition.  We have several events, projects, resources, and opportunities that aim to engage youth.

Youth Members

We welcome youth leaders to join CJJ as SAG members or as Student Members or Members at Large. Youth members can serve on leadership committees, receive discounts on conference registration and priority registration for webinars, and participate in information sharing and peer support across a network of 15,000 juvenile justice advocates. Click here to see how to get involved as a youth member.

CJJ’s Emerging Leaders Committee (ELC)

Anyone who is serving on their State Advisory Group, who has previous or current juvenile justice involvement, and/or who is interested in juvenile justice reform is eligible to join the CJJ Emerging Leaders Committee. Applicants must be 16 to 24 years old. CJJ supports the Emerging Leaders Committee to ensure that youth perspectives are represented in all aspects and functions of CJJ’s work, as well as CJJ’s communications with state and federal policymakers. Emerging Leaders Committee members help to shape the overall program and policy agenda for CJJ and perform several other important duties, including:

  • Coordinating, reviewing, and selecting the recipient of the annual CJJ Spirit of Youth Award;
  • Developing and implementing educational training programs for youth and adult SAG members;
  • Convening committee meetings and networking events for youth members at CJJ conferences;
  • Participating in Hill Day visits (with congressional representatives); and
  • Orienting new youth members to the work of the SAGs and CJJ, through the publication of resources and ongoing information sharing.
Learn more about CJJ's ELC here. 
Youth Summit

In 2013, CJJ began hosting an annual Youth Summit, which brought together young people interested in juvenile justice reform from around the country. The Summit aims to cultivate and empower a body of young juvenile justice advocates. Participants learn the basics of juvenile justice and engage in skill-building sessions on leadership development and civic engagement. Click here to learn more about the Youth Summit.

    Resources on Youth Engagement

    CJJ developed a short, clear, and easy-to-navigate Youth Manual offering all of the background and information a young person needs to get involved with and contribute to his or her SAG.

    CJJ created a tools and tips report to help SAG's colloboarate with their youth members. You can access the report here.

    We’ve held several webinars on youth issues, most notably on “Rules of Engagement: Sustaining Youth Collaboration in Programs and State Advisory Groups.During this webinar, Aaron Toleafoa and Gordon McHenry Jr. shared their insights of youth/adult partnerships, discussed the challenges of youth collaboration, offered solutions to those challenges, and provided tips to ensure young people play a vital role in shaping advocacy initiatives, policy recommendations, and organizational goals. You can access the webinar slides here.

    CJJ also hosts an Annual Conference each year, where sessions frequently highlight youth speakers and youth engagement initiatives.