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Positive Youth Justice Initiative

Positive Youth Justice Initiative logo

The Positive Youth Justice Initiative (PYJI) is spearheading a major shift in California’s juvenile justice practice and policy at the county level. The initiative focuses on crossover youth — young people with histories of neglect, abuse and trauma who currently are involved with their juvenile justice systems. Systemic changes address the underlying trauma and social and familial disconnections that impact and impede these vulnerable youth from successfully transitioning to adulthood.

Grantees are redesigning their approach to supporting some of their most vulnerable youth. PYJI innovation plans integrate four design elements: Investing in Youth, Treating Trauma, Changing Systems and Providing Wraparound Services. PYJI’s ultimate goal is to encourage system transformation that is focused on the development of healthy youth rather than confinement.

PYJI map

Six counties received $75,000 planning grants in 2012, and four counties received $400,000 implementation grants in January 2014.

Alameda County Probation Department, San Diego County Probation Department, San Joaquin County Probation Department and Vallejo City Unified School District in Solano County received the implementation grants to test a series of reforms designed to transform juvenile justice into a more just, effective system and improve the lives of the youth they engage.

PYJI is a Sierra Health Foundation initiative managed by the Center for Health Program Management, with additional funding from The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation.

Watch the launch event video on YouTube.

Learn about the PYJI county grantee partners.

PYJI in the News

Download the Positive Youth Justice Initiative Fact Sheet.

Learn about the technical assistance providers supporting the initiative.

Technical Assistance Resources

Webinars and Learning Communities

View Positive Youth Justice Initiative Spring 2012 Speaker Series presentations and videos.


Positive Youth Justice Initiative Briefing Paper

April 2012

This briefing paper provides background information on Sierra Health Foundation's Positive Youth Justice Initiative.

Download the briefing paper (PDF)



Rethinking Juvenile Justice: Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Crossover Youth, an article published in GIH Bulletin

September 2012

Grantmakers In Health published an article about the Positive Youth Justice Initiative in the Sept. 17, 2012, issue of its online GIH Bulletin. Written by Sierra Health Foundation President and CEO Chet Hewitt and Senior Program Officer Matt Cervantes, the article appeared in the publication's Views from the Field section.

Read Rethinking Juvenile Justice: Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Crossover Youth in GIH Bulletin



Renewing Juvenile Justice

March 2011

Commissioned by Sierra Health Foundation and written by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, this policy report provides a historical account of California's juvenile justice system that illustrates the origins of today's issues, and provides a direction for establishing a model 21st century juvenile justice system designed to improve outcomes for youth, their families and caregivers. Download the report (PDF)