Youth at the secure residential treatment facility for young males (New Beginnings) have frequent arrests to their names and some have up to 24 referrals to delinquency court. When they return home, poverty, violence, and staggering unemployment await them. So Open City Advocates targets 17-19 year-olds before, during, and after re-entry. Through a partnership with Students United, Open City Advocates pairs each youth with a Washington College of Law student who can act both as confidante and zealous advocate. Together, they plan post-release goals, from earning a GED, to beginning vocational training, to finding a job; guided by a staff attorney, mentors also ensure that each young man receives the public education, health, and support services to which he is entitled. While the program officially lasts 12 months, many relationships endure for years. The FREE Project, founded and led by past mentees, provides peer-to-peer mentoring and discussion groups on the challenges of re-entry, offering youth living proof that a new start is possible. Last year, only one-third of mentees re-offended; none committed violent crimes. Imagine the change.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 7

Where They Operate: DC-Citywide; DC-Ward 1; DC-Ward 4; DC-Ward 5; DC-Ward 6; DC-Ward 7; DC-Ward 8; We work specifically with youth re-entering the community from New Beginnings, most of whom lives in Wards 7 and 8.

Age Groups Served: Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Ethnic Groups Served: African American; Latino/Hispanic

Population(s) Served: Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members; Men/Boys

  • % of mentees who re-enroll in high school, GED classes, college, and/or vocational training after incarceration:   94%
  • % of mentees who obtain full or part-time employment after incarceration:   97%
  • Re-conviction rate after completing our program (compared to DC's rate of 31% for all youth returning from incarceration):   17%

Awards & Recognition

American University's Washington College of Law awarded our Co-Founders the 2010-2011 Peter M. Cicchino Award for Outstanding Advocacy in the Public Interest


Budget (FY2012)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • The current budget for Open City Advocates is: Less than $500k

Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to $3 million. This graphic indicates the budget range of the organization featured here. If you see an organizational budget above the $3 million mark, that is because the featured charity has grown in size since it first appeared in the Catalogue. We proudly present on our website the work of these "growth" charities.

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