Building Pathways to Postsecondary Education for Youth Involved in the Justice System

Building Pathways to Postsecondary Education for Youth Involved in the Justice System
Building Pathways to Postsecondary Education for Youth Involved in the Justice System


For young people involved in the justice system, navigating a pathway into and through postsecondary education and the workforce is often met with a range of barriers including social stigmatization arising from court involvement, lack of access to resources and services, low expectations of educational success, lack of employment opportunities, probation and parole requirements that do not support postsecondary goals, and gaps in academic attainment and college readiness.  This webinar featured a discussion of NYEC’s recent report “Promoting Postsecondary Success of Court-Involved Youth: Lessons from the NYEC Postsecondary Success Pilot” and included presentations from profiled programs.  Speakers included Yelena Nemoy, National Youth Employment Coalition; Sophia Morel, Center for Alternative Education and Employment Services (CASES); and Patricia Gill, Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL).

AYPF will also host a webinar in December about postsecondary pathways for foster youth.  Details are forthcoming.

Presenters Included:

Patricia Gill, Senior Associate, Center for Workforce Development, Institute for Educational Leadership

Sophia Morel, Director, Youth Education Services, CASES

Yelena Nemoy, Project Manager, National Youth Employment Coalition

Presenter biographies

webphoto_patriciaPatricia Gill joined the IEL staff in December of 2008.  As Senior Program Associate for the Center for Workforce Development (CWD), she serves as the lead workforce development technical assistance liaison for The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.  Prior to joining IEL, Patricia was the Civic Justice Corps Program Director at The Corps Network, the national association of service and conservation corps, in Washington, DC.  Her responsibilities included providing technical assistance to a service and conservation corps network of 20+ sites that are demonstrating a community service-based model for the effective reentry of formerly incarcerated and court-affiliated youth.  Previously, Patricia led professional development and standards-based organizational capacity building efforts in the U.S. and Haiti at The National Youth Employment Coalition. Patricia holds a Juris Doctor degree from The Georgetown University Law Center, and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech/Communication from the University of Maryland at College Park.  She is a Certified Workforce Development Professional with a Youth Endorsement and a Master Facilitator of the Advancing Youth Development Curriculum.

webphoto_sophiaAs Director of Youth Education Services at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, (CASES), Sophia Morel is responsible for the development and management of all classroom instruction, education testing, counseling and advocacy for Youth Programs.  Ms Morel worked closely with the Youth Development Institute to provide training on strategies for improving literacy and reading comprehension levels. Ms Morel has successfully managed the GED testing at CASES.  Seeing an increase in participants who were earning their equivalency and high school diplomas, Ms Morel developed the Next Steps initiative to help young people prepare for and enroll in post secondary institutions.  When funding to improve post secondary outcomes for young people became available through the National Youth Employment Coalition, Ms Morel was instrumental in helping to secure that funding to provide additional support and services to increase retention and degree attainment rates.  Under Ms. Morel’s leadership and oversight of this grant, the number of CASES participants and graduates pursuing post-secondary education has increased steadily with one participant earning his associate degree in the second year of the grant.  Ms Morel earned her bachelors degree in Communication and Rhetoric from the State University of New York at Albany and recently completed an MS in Ed Leadership in Community-Based Learning from Bank Street College of Education.

webphoto_yelenaYelena Nemoy leads the work of the National Youth Employment Coalition’s Postsecondary Success Initiative, a national pilot that aims to strengthen the ability of a network of ten community based organizations to partner with community colleges and engage disconnected youth onto pathways leading to postsecondary credential attainment and employment at a living wage.

Yelena has worked extensively with youth, focusing on vulnerable and marginalized youth populations, including homeless youth and youth at risk of dropping out of high school. Yelena’s specific areas of expertise in youth services include partnerships that increase opportunities and supports available to youth; college and career readiness; workforce development; dropout prevention; homelessness; and positive youth development strategies. Before joining NYEC in 2011, Yelena coordinated a student internship program for youth at risk of dropping out of high school at Goodwill Industries of Denver in Denver, Colorado. Prior to that, Yelena provided crisis intervention and transitional living case management to runaway, homeless, and marginally housed youth in shelter and transitional housing programs at Urban Peak Denver in Denver, Colorado.

Yelena holds an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Colorado Denver and a B.A. in Psychology from Pace University.

Click here for the presenters’ PPT presentations

Presenter Information

Patricia Gill

Senior Associate, Center for Workforce Development

Institute for Educational Leadership

4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Suite 100

Washington, DC 20008


Sophia Morel

Director, Youth Education Services

Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) Youth Programs

346 Broadway

6th Floor, East

New York, NY 10013


Yelena Nemoy

Project Manager

National Youth Employment Coalition

1836 Jefferson Place, NW

Washington, DC 20036





The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.