What We Do

Video courtesy of Stone Soup Films.

We aim to curb the school-to-prison pipeline through early intervention focused on three critical points along this spectrum:


when students are truant from school


when students have behavior issues that could result in suspension from school


when young people are arrested for first-time, low-level offenses.

What is the school-to-prison pipeline?

It is the array of systems, policies and practices that push at-risk youth out of school and into the juvenile or criminal justice systems.

Three key points where this occurs include excessive school absence, school behavior issues, and first-time arrest.

Most of these youth are at-risk low-income, African-American youth who face an array of challenges in their home, neighborhood and school environments.

Youth who experience truancy, suspension or arrest are more likely to drop out of school and end up unemployed and/or incarcerated.

These outcomes place further strain on vulnerable families and communities, and reduce these students’ chances to fulfill their potential as productive, engaged members of society.

Access Youth is currently the only nonprofit in the District of Columbia working at all three of these key points – truancy, suspension and arrest – to curb the school-to-prison pipeline and help at-risk youth stay in school and out of the justice system.







Our solution:

We provide early intervention and prevention programs at the points when youth first begin to exhibit excessive unexcused absences, school behavior issues and first-time arrest by the police.

Our programs involve mediation with students and families, individual and group coaching, life skills instruction and other support. Youth in our programs are given the opportunity to:

  • have a voice
  • feel heard and understood
  • identify goals and plans to change course
  • be supported by caring adults in making better choices

Our programs are proven to help youth become more engaged in school and less likely to become truant, suspended or arrested. Our results:

  • Students in our truancy prevention program are 3x as likely to avoid truancy as their peers.
  • 75% avoid suspension of students in our suspension prevention program avoid suspension for common offenses like fights, bullying or threats.
  • 75% of first-time-offender youth in our arrest prevention program avoid re-arrest.

Learn more about our how our programs address these issues: