Friends of Island Academy is one of two organizations selected as providers of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Social Impact Bond financing initiative with Goldman Sachs. On August 2, 2012, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the City is proceeding with a contract for the nation’s first Social Impact Bond. As part of the Young Men’s Initiative, this investment will support an evidence-based program for young people on Rikers Island. The program – the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) – focuses on personal responsibility, education, training and counseling, with the goal of reducing the likelihood of re-incarceration. As part of this initiative, Friends has 7 full-time staff on Rikers Island daily, working with young people ages 16 to 18, delivering ABLE, through a 3-year contract beginning May 1, 2012. Goldman Sachs will fully fund the ABLE program over four years, structuring its investment as a loan to MDRC, a leading social policy demonstration organization based in New York City.
Also at Rikers Island, our staff visits the Eric M. Taylor Center (EMTC) and the Rose M. Singer Center each week to conduct outreach. Prior to their release from jail, young people participate in workshops and individualized meetings through which we get to know them and their circumstances. Youth work with us pre-release to determine the right combination of supports and opportunities to prepare for returning home, including housing, health care, academic advancement, and leveraging family and neighborhood supports.
These early contacts help to ease their transition back to the community and strengthen the ties for a continuing relationship with Friends.
The concept to develop Friends developed in the late 1980’s at the alternative high school – known at that time as Island Academy – located at EMTC. For 22 years, every week, our staff has been a constant presence there, extending a hand and providing a mobile safety net on the way home.