Hanna Katz, from Woodbridge CT, is a Sociology major whose senior thesis is about the social engagement of youth who are repeatedly stopped by the police. Her academic record is stellar, and she has amassed various academic honors.
Her project is with the Youth Employment and Education Program (YEP) of the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, which (in the settlement house tradition) has been performing services for low-income NYC individuals since 1964. YEP is a job-readiness training program for out-of-school and out-of-work youth between ages 17 and 24. They are mostly African-American or Hispanic, and come from the poorest neighborhoods of East Harlem and the Bronx with little educational attainment.
Hanna served as an intern at the Isaacs Center in 2009 and has returned to the Center regularly since then, meeting hundreds of young people who have benefited from the Center’s services. One of the significant barriers to their progress in job and school placement is a criminal record – 70% of the participants having been involved in the criminal justice system. Hanna realized that she could be helpful to those with criminal records, reconnecting these youngsters back into society; and she approached YEP about her project. YEP’s leaders are delighted that she will take on this special task.
The four components of Hanna’s proposed program are:
Developing a sustainable case management-program for these youths as they move through the legal process;
Incorporating relevant issues of criminal justice into existing Isaacs Center programming;
Connecting the Isaacs Center with the criminal justice system and the local community on a sustainable basis; and
Strengthening the relationship between the Isaacs Center and the broader community.
Class of 2011
Hanna says that “Together, these four spheres will form a multi-level support structure for some of the Isaacs Center’s neediest clients and thus will constitute a meaningful addition to this wonderful organization.” Because of recent cuts in public funding for non-profit organization, Hanna says, the Isaacs Center would not be able to support Hanna’s program without the financial assistance of the ReachOut56-81 Fellowship program. Hanna’s conviction that “underprivileged individuals are trapped in a cycle of criminal involvement and personal instability,” but that they have the potential to escape the cycle, has inspired her future plans of earning a dual degree in law and social work so as to provide underprivileged youth with comprehensive support.
Hanna has thought a great deal about this and brings intelligence and passion to the task ahead. The leadership of the Isaacs Center (knowing Hanna from her prior internship there) has “every confidence that Hanna will do an outstanding job in this position.” They see her as “insightful, passionate and dedicated,” as well as “ a true team player.” They feel that her program, with Hanna guiding it, “will prove to be highly successful and positively benefit the lives of hundreds of disconnected young people.”
Hanna has received outstanding references. Her senior thesis adviser had this to say: “She is smart, organized and hard-working; but she also cares about the real world and wants her work to contribute to making that world a better place.” A manager of the Princeton Pace Center, who knows Hanna well, felt she was an “excellent candidate,” and spoke about her “many talents and skills” and “deep passion for social justice and fulfilling the ideals of an active and engaged participant of her community.” And the supervisor at her 2010 summer internship in a criminal justice program said she was their “number one pick,” who “met and exceeded our expectations,” and took initiatives beyond her years in a stressful work environment.
Here are some additional comments from Hanna. “During the summer of 2009, I interned with the Isaacs Center's YEP program through the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation's Oscar S. Straus II Fellows in Criminal Justice, a program coordinated by the Pace Center. During that summer, I was blown away by the dedication of the Isaacs Center staff and by the supportive services that the Center provided for these youth. However, I did notice that there were few structures in place at the Isaacs Center to serve the particular needs of young criminal defendants. I continued to volunteer at the Isaacs Center after that summer, and it became increasingly clear to me that criminal justice involvement was one of the central barriers that these youth faced as they sought educational and employment opportunities.
“Developing my ReachOut proposal was a gradual process, and I drew inspiration from staff at the Isaacs Center, coursework in the Sociology department, and a summer 2010 internship with the Osborne Association, a criminal justice-related non-profit
organization in Brooklyn. My final project has four separate components: providing individual case-management for youth with ongoing criminal cases, incorporating relevant criminal-justice issues into the YEP curriculum, connecting the Isaacs Center
with the existing network of criminal-justice organizations, and strengthening the relationship between the Isaacs Center and its surrounding community. I anticipate a busy year, but I cannot be more excited.
“My hope is that these four components will help to address both the individual level struggles and the broader structural difficulties associated with criminal-justice involvement among youth. It is most important to me that I start a program that the Isaacs Center can sustain beyond my fellowship year. Finally, I hope that my future career will involve providing these same sort of comprehensive legal services for underprivileged youth, and I am grateful to Princeton ReachOut56-81 for allowing me to start this work right away.
“I was shocked when I learned that I was awarded the ReachOut fellowship. I feel incredibly honored and fortunate to be granted this opportunity to make a real difference for an incredible organization during my first year out of college. I knew going in that the ReachOut fellowship was a long shot, but I also knew that this opportunity was well worth taking that shot. I'm still in disbelief; I don't think the reality is going to sink in until I begin my project at the end of the summer. I am so grateful to friends, faculty, the Pace Center, and other members of the Princeton and Isaacs Center communities who supported and encouraged me through the application process.”
“During the summer of 2009, I interned with the Isaacs Center's YEP program through the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation's Oscar S. Straus II Fellows in Criminal Justice, a program coordinated by the Pace Center. During that summer, I was
blown away by the dedication of the Isaacs Center staff and by the supportive services that the Center provided for these youth. However, I did notice that there were few structures in place at the Isaacs Center to serve the particular needs of young criminal
defendants. I continued to volunteer at the Isaacs Center after that summer, and it became increasingly clear to me that criminal justice involvement was one of the central barriers that these youth faced as they sought educational and employment opportunities.