In August 2015, the Atlanta Municipal Court piloted a new leadership program as an alternative to sentencing non-violent offenders. As part of that pilot progam, AFSC’s Georgia Restorative Justice began working with youth in the form of the Talented Tenth Leadership Program. I developed Talented Tenth in 2002 to be an academically based and community based program that facilitated young people—identifying their talents, transforming them into marketable skills, and then making a contribution to their community. When the program was presented to Judge Herman Sloan and Vanessa Gayles, they saw the potential of these young men and women who are marginalized in society and part of that revolving door of the criminal justice system.
Participant Kwame Garcia, commenting on his future while working with Talented Tenth, says “The ultimate thing I’ve learned from this program [is] at any given time, either you are a product of your environment or your environment is a product of you, and you have to decide what you want it to be. Everybody has their role ... and I feel like I have a greater role.”
Garcia is just one of several young people who have continued to develop their skills with the program, and with continued work can realize the goals he has set for himself.
- Joel Dickerson
GA Restorative Justice Program Director