Atlantic County Youth Advocate Program (YAP) Director Lamont Fauntleroy will receive the Courageous Leadership Award in California this Thursday from the W. Haywood Burns Institute. The Burns Institute is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce ethnic and racial disparities for youth in the juvenile justice system and help to protect and improve the lives of youth of color and poor youth by promoting and ensuring fairness and equity in youth-serving systems across the country.
The Burns Institute selected the awardees after reviewing the work of community leaders across the nation, leading efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system. Tshaka Barrows, Deputy Director of the Burns Institute, said that through its review of candidates, Lamont "rose to the top as someone who was making a significant impact on the work of reducing ethic and racial disparities in his community." In notifying Lamont of his award, James Bell, Director of the Burns Institute wrote, "[t]he movement to secure justice for our young people and communities has only been strengthened by your work in Atlantic County engaging communities with system stakeholders to reduce racial and ethnic disparities."
Ten other leaders will receive awards for their work as Community Leaders, Systems Leaders, Elected Officials or State Officials. The awards ceremony coincides with the Burns Institute's 10th anniversary. Lamont's award as a Community Leader follows his recent role as chair of the Community Engagement Forum for the Juvenile Delinquency Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) for Atlantic County.
Under Lamont's leadership, Atlantic County YAP serves more than 100 youth and young adults involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems and the child welfare system. Lamont is the architect behind YAP's Atlantic County MERGE (Males Engaged in Reducing violence Through Gainful Employment) Program, a cutting-edge, life skills and jobs program initiative focused on supporting the de-incarceration of older youth of color, mostly fathers returning from prison or detention with crippling criminal and juvenile histories that often serve as significant barriers to employment.
Atlantic County YAP works in partnership with multiple community agencies such as Atlantic County Youth Services Commission, the Juvenile Justice Commission, the City of Atlantic City, the Casino Reinvestment Authority and foundations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pascale Sykes Foundation to serve youth in Atlantic County.