Youth Advocacy Foundation


YAF Announcements and Updates

YAF is looking for a Development and Communications Intern

Organization Description:

The Youth Advocacy Foundation (YAF) is the non-profit arm of the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Youth Advocacy Division (YAD). YAF supports YAD’s vision for holistic legal representation of children, with the goal of ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline. YAF partners with YAD to improve legal and educational outcomes for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable children. Our work is focused on protecting their rights to a quality education, and preventing them from being pushed out of school and into the juvenile and criminal legal systems. We primarily support the EdLaw Project, which provides education advocacy for systems-involved youth, as well as comprehensive training and support to the Massachusetts juvenile and child welfare bars.

Position description:

YAF has been growing, and is looking for a Development and Communications Intern to assist in event planning, donor tracking and outreach, fundraising efforts, content curation, and editing, among other projects. This is an excellent opportunity for someone who is highly organized and flexible. We are looking for a self-starter who is just as happy tracking donations as they are in brainstorming a longer-term project they can take on. This person should have an interest in juvenile justice and public education, although prior work experience in the field is not a requirement. This is an unpaid internship; however, YAF is happy to work with students to arrange academic credit or support external compensation through grants, fellowships, etc. through their school or external organizations. Hours can be scheduled anytime between 9:00-5:00 Monday-Friday, and if necessary, can be switched to accommodate a changed class schedule during the spring semester.

This position will report to the Operations and Development Coordinator and will be located in our office in downtown Boston (close to Park St. station).

Duties and responsibilities may include:

·         Assisting with donor database management (organizing deposits, documenting donations, recording donations in systems)
·         Assisting with special event planning (this will include helping to prepare for our Annual Spring Celebration, which may entail silent auction/raffle solicitations, Eventbrite management, RSVP registration, donation tracking, and program book compilation)
·         Assisting with general administrative duties (data entry, envelope stuffing, printing labels, etc)
·         Helping kick off Young Professionals Giving Circle and associated events
·         Helping coordinate marathon team (pending)
·         Updating website/social media (squarespace website, twitter and facebook accounts)
·         Creating/editing content for organizational use
·         Drafting communications to supporters/donors
·         Providing support in sending mailings/invitations (designing, printing, organizing, stuffing)
·         Leading or supporting any additional projects as needed/interested (for instance blog posts, or an in-depth research project)


We are looking for students who can commit to a 9 month internship, who are responsible, reliable, and eager to learn. A basic understanding of Microsoft Word and Excel, as well as willingness to learning new software/web programs is important for this position, as much of the work will require sitting in front of the computer for large chunks of time. This position may be periodically exposed to confidential information and sensitive case issues, and discretion and maturity are paramount. Familiarity with Mail Merge is desirable, but not expected. YAF is committed to our interns’ ongoing learning and professional development and support scheduling attorney shadowing and court visits, attending relevant local talks, events, and conferences.

To apply:

Please email your resume and cover letter to Eliza States at with the subject line “YAF Intern-Your First Name Last Name. Please attach your cover letter and resume as a single document (either .pdf or .word).

In your cover letter, please answer the following questions:

1. What interests you about this internship/our work?

2. What do you hope to get out of this internship?

3. Are you able to commit to 10-20 hours per week from September-May (excluding school holiday breaks), and potentially several evening events during the year? Are you available for our annual event and day-of prep (likely on a Thursday towards the beginning of May)?

4. Anything else you would like us to know about who you are, what makes you tick, and so forth.

Only applications sent via email will be considered for this position. If you have questions about this opportunity, please reach out to Eliza States by email ( or phone (617-910-5840). We thank you for your interest, and for taking the time to apply for an internship at YAF.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. The final deadline for applications is Friday, August 31st, 2018 at 5:00pm.

Eliza States
Remembering a Dear Friend and Longtime Youth Advocate

It is with great sadness in our hearts that recently, on February 27th, we said goodbye to a longtime friend and supporter of juvenile justice reform, Christopher J. Ainley.

From the Boston Globe:

AINLEY, Christopher Husband, Father, Friend & Life Long Red Sox Fan To our great sorrow, and after a long battle, Christopher John Ainley left us on February 27, 2018. In his 59 years, he set an example for how to live a loving, generous and inquisitive life. His spirit never wavered as he courageously faced his illness. His wife Shelby and sons, Jonathan and Nathaniel were by his side as he said goodbye. He leaves also his mother Ann, his sister Liz Michels, and brother David. Grieving with them, are his many Aunts, Uncles, In-laws, Nieces, Nephews, Cousins and dear Friends with whom Chris also passionately shared his bold humor, loyalty, love and attention. Chris developed an extraordinary talent for investing in people while pursuing his career in Portfolio Management. He became a treasured mentor to many of his friends and family. Chris was an avid lifelong Boston Sports fan. While his favorite color was Celtic Green, nothing matched the optimism of The Red Sox's Opening Day. Sundays on the sofa with his beloved Patriots ruled the autumn months. A celebration of Chris's life will be held in Los Angeles on Sunday March 11, 2018 from 11:30 - 3:00 (open house) at the Bel Air Ridge Clubhouse, Claray Drive, LA 90077, followed by a funeral mass in Boston at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, 1545 Tremont Street, on March 17, 2018 at 10:00 am. There will also be visitation hours the evening before on March 16 from 8:00pm - 10:00 PM at the Church.

To read the original text, visit the following link: Christopher Ainley

YAF is deeply grateful for his leadership and generosity over the years.

Eliza States
Push for School-Police Reform

As part of the criminal justice reform bill currently making its way through the Massachusetts legislature, youth advocates are pushing to include sections specifically dealing with the over-reliance in schools on police to handle behavior issues. Among these sections include one on training school resource officers to minimize the use of arrest, and two others address the charging of students for non-violent behavioral problems.

Read WCVB's article here

Eliza States
Patriots Players on Juvenile Justice Reform

Read this powerful Op-Ed by influencers from the Patriots following a day of discussing youth incarceration in Massachusetts with YAF, CPCS, and other juvenile justice advocates.

The Patriots' Devin McCourty, Jonathan Kraft, and Robert Kraft wrote an Op-Ed in the Boston Globe last weekend on juvenile justice reform in MA, and the urgent need to stop criminalizing our youth. Read the excerpt below, and check out the entire article here.

THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS represent a six-state region and we are grateful for many things, including our region’s national leadership in improving our justice systems, especially for children and youth. The Patriots organization cares about the safety of our communities and we know the best place to start is with our youngest members. If we get it right with our youth, they will become our future leaders, neighbors, and trusted colleagues. Continue to The Boston Globe.

Also, this past week there was an NFL Segment on Listen and Learn featuring Patriots players, president Jonathan Kraft, and CPCS, YAF, and other criminal justice advocates.

Watch the segment below:

Eliza States
January Newsletter

Happy New Year from the Youth Advocacy Foundation


We hope everybody had a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! Some updates about what YAF has been up to lately:

In Recent News...

NFL Boston's Listen-And-Learn Tour: Racial Inequities in the Criminal Justice System



Patriots players joined YAF, CPCS, and other criminal justice advocates for a day of discussion

Last Friday, Patriots players Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and Johnson Bademosi and president Jonathan Kraft joined YAF, CPCS, and other criminal justice advocates for a day of discussing elements of the criminal justice system in Massachusetts at Harvard Law School. 

Panels covered topics from the socioeconomic realities of minority populations in MA and the role of ineffective education and welfare systems, particularly in pushing kids out of school and into the justice system; to the factors that lead to youth involvement in the juvenile justice system, and alternative approaches to locking kids up; to the failure of Massachusetts to adequately address both pre-arrest and post-release failures on a systemic level and possible solutions. The group also traveled to Haley House where they learned about the dynamic community and social change organization and met with former and current individuals involved with some of the many projects and initiatives of Haley House.

Criminal justice advocates and experts included: Joshua Dohan of YAF and CPCS; Samantha Calero, of YAF; Marlies Spanjaard of YAF and CPCS; Jacob Sussman of the Fair Punishment Project; Rahsaan Hall of the ACLU of MA; Jeremy Thompson, of the Madison Park Development Corporation; Judge Gloria Tan of the Middlesex County Juvenile Court; Duci Goncalves of CPCS; Mia Alvarado of Roxbury Youthworks; Andrea Perry of YouthConnect; Sana Fadel of Citizens for Juvenile Justice; Dehlia Umunna of Harvard Law School; Councilor Andrea Campbell of the Boston City Counsel; Randy Gioia of CPCS; Patricia Garin of the Prisoner's Assistance Project at Northeastern; Jerome Pitts of Haley House; Anthony Benedetti of CPCS; Lisa Hewitt of CPCS; Nancy Bennett of CPCS; Lael Chester and Yohanna Beyene of the Justice Lab at Columbia University; Luther Pinckney of Haley House (formerly); Priscilla Duffy of CPCS.

Thank you to all who participated and engaged in these thoughtful discussions!

Check out the Boston Herald article here, and the ESPN article here.

Upcoming Events:

Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion

Join YAF and YW Boston for a screening of the transformative and informative documentary Teach Us All about education inequities that still persist, and have often become more acute, 60 years after the historic decision in Brown v Board of Education and the bravery of the children called the Little Rock Nine to integrate an all-white high school.

Screening to be followed by a panel discussion* about education inequities in Massachusetts.

*Panelists to be announced in the coming weeks

When: Monday, April 9th, 2018 from 6-8:00PM
WhereLyric Stage140 Clarendon St., Boston, MA 02116
Admission: Free
RSVP: On EventBrite

Check out the trailer below:

Save The Date

YAF's 17th Annual Spring Celebration is only three months away! Look out for more information coming soon!

YAF's 17th Annual Spring Celebration will be held on Thursday, May 17th, 2018 at the Boston Children's Museum from 6-8:00PM

We look forward to seeing you there!

Eliza States

Marathon Fundraising Update


The Youth Advocacy Foundation is so thrilled to be part of John Hancock's Non-Profit Partner program for the 2018 Boston Marathon! We have two very ambitious runners, Michele ScavongelliJacquie Boudreau, and Grace Hennemuth whose fundraising efforts have gotten off to a great start! 

So far, our runners have raised over $39,000, with over $28,000 raised on #GivingTuesday alone! In fact, Michele was the top non-profit individual fundraiser in John Hancock's #GivingTuesday challenge, which meant that she was the winner of an additional $2,620 donation to her campaign from John Hancock!

We can't wait to continue following #TeamYAF's progress, and providing you with regular updates on their training and fundraising status!

Thank you to everybody who has been such ardent supporters of YAF!

Eliza States

With the holiday season in full swing, why support YAF?

Because of young people like Mike.

When EdLaw took his case he was an 18 year old high school senior with a full scholarship to college. Merely weeks from graduation he was found on campus in possession of marijuana and a knife. Instead of college, he was facing an expulsion hearing and criminal charges in court.
But why did Mike, a bright student, have marijuana and a knife in the first place? The knife- for protection, because he had been mugged outside of school earlier in the year. The marijuana- to self-medicate some undiagnosed mental health issues.
What Mike needed wasn't a prison sentence; he needed an advocate
This is where EdLaw stepped in. Our team worked with Mike's defense attorney to simultaneously protect his interests in court and addressing his mental health needs by helping Mike access appropriate clinical services. 
The result? 
Instead of expulsion, the school agreed to impose a shorter suspension. Mike was able to graduate and keep his scholarship. He is now a freshman in college with plans of one day becoming a lawyer.




Take a moment to consider all the Mikes out there who really need an advocate. Maybe you were one of them. Who was your advocate?

Help ensure Massachusetts youth have an advocate when they need it the most.

Donate today. From all of us at the Youth Advocacy Foundation and the EdLaw Project, we wish you a very warm and merry holiday season!

Eliza States

Our Impact: EdLaw Stats and More


infographic for aa 2018.png

I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”

- Stephen Jay Gould, science writer and educator.

Reflecting on the year, we are closing out 2017 with gratitude and renewed resolve in our fight for justice. In our current American landscape, one could easily apply Gould’s observation to the streets and the prison system. How many of the kids experiencing criminalization instead of education would otherwise have futures as doctors, teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs?  Our work at the Youth Advocacy Foundation is not just about preventing children from getting pushed out of school and into the courts and jail; we are zealously fighting for a vision that all youth receive the support and resources they need for a real opportunity at a bright future. Investing in their future potential must include ensuring equitable access to a high quality public education.

We have our work cut out for us here in Massachusetts. Although we have the lowest youth imprisonment rates in the country, we are the third worst in terms of racial inequities of which kids get locked up. Our state is heralded as having the best public schools in the nation; however, our schools are among the most segregated—racially and economically. The movement to transform our commonwealth and nation so that all may benefit from our shared social institutions and systems starts with you. Whether you have been involved for years, or are recently joining, we all share the belief that a good education is the common denominator for future success, both at the individual and community level. You all make our work possible and together we are making bold strides toward the future we envision for all children.

Across Massachusetts, schools and districts are unfairly excluding some children from the public education to which they are legally entitled. Through the inappropriate use of suspensions, expulsions, and failures to meet the unique learning needs of kids with disabilities or trauma histories, these schools are sending the message to our young people that they don’t belong at school. We are determined to change that message. The EdLaw Project is our team of everyday superheroes who stand with Massachusetts youth and fight for their rights to education. This incredible team of attorneys is on the front lines of fighting for education justice and working to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline. The fight is here, and the time is now. We cannot do this without you. Together we can abolish the School-to-Prison Pipeline and progress toward a future where all children are nurtured and supported to succeed at school.

On behalf of the YAF-EdLaw family, we wish you a very happy holiday season. Thank you very much.

Eliza States
YAF in the News

The Transformation of Juvenile Justice in Massachusetts


The Impressive Top-to-Bottom Makeover of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System: Why the state started asking what resources, opportunities, services or supports do youth offenders need in order to be able to behave better instead of viewing them as “super-predators” needed to be taken off the streets.

Read more of the article here. 

Joshua Gee