Guidance from Credible Messengers

Young people often learn best from each other, particularly those who have shared experiences. To that end, we operate a number of mentoring programs that employ “credible messengers,” young adults who have been in foster care, overcome substance abuse, have been incarcerated, or who are members of the same community. These Credible Messengers (mentors) have struggled with some of the same situations our youth are currently facing and are able to provide stability and offer guidance. Without seeming judgmental, they can guide youth to make better decisions and explore constructive outlets.


The Arches program uses interactive group work and one-to-one interactive journaling to help young men and women involved with the probation system to transition away from the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors that led to their entanglement with the justice system. The goal is to help them identify the labels and internalized stigmas associated with being on probation.

Young adults ages 16-24 on probation and living in the South Bronx and Highbridge, Mt. Eden, Grand Concourse, Morris Heights, University Heights, and Mount Hope are eligible to participate. The change and transition process is facilitated by Credible Messengers and includes the development of a mutual aid support system; engagement in education and employment; goal setting; and the use of social media, theater, role play, music, spoken word, and film.

Arches has proven to reduce the rates of recidivism among young adults on probation. Learn more here and here.

Arches is a Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) funded by the New York City Department of Probation, and is part of the Mayoral initiative to reduce recidivism and violence. For more information on YMI, click here.

Supporting Our Sisters (S.O.S.)

A supplementary program for young women who participate in any of our transitional mentoring programs, Supporting Our Sisters (S.O.S.) focuses on community-building, promoting self-esteem and self-acceptance, the meaning of sisterhood, mediation and conflict resolution, how to navigate programs for young women, and how communication impacts relationships and feelings. Girls ages 16-24 meet weekly to learn, share, and support one another.

Next S.T.E.P.S.

Next S.T.E.P.S. (Striving Towards Engagement & Peaceful Solutions) is an 11-month community program that utilizes group work and a one-to-one interactive journaling curriculum to help decrease the number of violent crimes and incarcerations in and around the Polo Grounds housing complex in Harlem. Credible Messengers (mentors) meet with participants individually and in groups.

Facilitated group sessions are focused on individual change, responsible behavior, communication and relationships, and handling difficult feelings. The group process is central to the program, providing an opportunity for individuals to self-examine certain attitudes and behaviors that may be keeping them from achieving the things they want, fulfilling goals around family, work, and school.

Next S.T.E.P.S. is a Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) funded by the New York City Department of Probation, and is part of the Mayoral initiative to reduce violence.


A one-year aftercare program open to Bronx and Harlem residents ages 14-19 who are exiting Limited Secure Placement facilities, T.E.A.M. (Transform and Empower youth to Aspire through Mentoring) participants learn about new ways of communication, the connection between feelings and irresponsible behavior, self-care and self-acceptance, job readiness and financial literacy, and education and wellness, along with restorative justice practices. Credible Messengers facilitate interactive group and one-to-one journaling.

ICM Plus

The Intensive Community Monitoring (ICM) Plus program uses curriculum‐based group mentoring to help at‐risk youth transform their attitudes and behaviors that have led to violence and/or criminal activity. Building on the success of the Arches Transformative Mentoring program model, ICM Plus is designed to meet young people where they are in this process of pro-social engagement, focusing on changes in cognition and thinking and the attainment of problem-solving/social skills that often precede the ability to secure concrete attainments in education, employment, healthy personal relationships, and avoidance of criminal behavior.

ICM Plus is designed for high‐risk youth between the ages of 13 and 18 who are currently on Intensive Community Monitoring and may struggle to develop pro-social connections with various aspects of life such as conflict resolution, healthy relationships (e.g. peers, family, etc.), education, employment, and/or exhibiting anti-social thinking and behaviors. It is grounded in the process model for emotional regulation and uses an evidence‐based curriculum employing cognitive behavioral, social-emotional, and mindfulness principles.


Bravehearts are young men and women who have been in foster care, were homeless, or were incarcerated. They hold weekly support meetings and offer one-one-one mentoring for kids focusing on changing the conversation from “victim” to “victor.”

Their “Bravery Behind Bars” program is similar in scope, but with an added goal: Helping incarcerated young adults understand that their life has value and that one mistake doesn’t have to derail their dreams. Their latest project, Brave Moms, is focused on helping parenting teens.

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