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Sims-Fayola Empowerment Zone (SFEZ)

18-Week Program

SFEZ is designed to serve justice-involved and community-referred males of color between ages 11-25 with social-emotional skill

development and positive race and cultural identity. Our goal is to improve life outcomes, reduce engagement with the criminal justice system, widen career exposure, and provide healthy relationships through mentoring and support from other men of color participating in this program. The overarching goal of our Sims-Fayola Empowerment Zone is to assist young and adult males in increasing their capacity to be better stewards of their choices, careers, mental wellness, and, ultimately, their lives while developing into positive, culturally aware, and emotionally healthy individuals. The SFEZ program is an effective tool that encompasses the SEL components needed to regulate and control emotions and behaviors. Research supports the importance of utilizing an effective school-based SEL program early to enhance academics and behavior. The core of the SFEZ is based on the concept and principles of positive youth development (PYD). Traditionally, youth justice interventions focused on youth offenders.’

problems and deficits. In recent years, there has been a shift towards responding to youth offenders’ behaviors using the concepts and principles of PYD. PYD posits that promoting positive developmental opportunities can alter a youth’s negative trajectory.


Compelling evidence concludes that an effective SEL program will yield positive outcomes such as college entrance and graduation, positive personal and professional relationships, overall health, behavior, and career accomplishment. A positive youth justice model aims to leverage strengths and promote protective factors while also addressing risks and vulnerabilities. The Sims-Fayola Empowerment Zone will be a model that focuses on the young men’s assets as much as their growth areas.

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