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Racine County has announced that its County Human Services Department has been awarded an $250,000 Innovation Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. The grant will launch a local program based on the successful Arches Credible Messenger program in New York City. The program has significantly reduced its youth prison population by bringing services for youth and their families into neighborhoods. County Executive Jonathan Delagrave announced the grant in his budget speech on Tuesday.

Focal point for justice

The Credible Messenger Justice Center is at the forefront of the Credible Messenger movement, an innovative approach to restorative justice that relies on the unique relationships that credible messengers form with justice-involved youth, and others, to modify individual behavior and strengthen disadvantaged communities.

Central to the approach, credible messengers are individuals who can connect with and motivate the most at-risk young people to successfully challenge and transform destructive thinking, attitudes and actions.

A leader in the justice community, the Center is researching and evaluating the effectiveness of the approach, incubating and supporting programs, and spreading the methodology.

Watch a video about the Credible Messenger approach.

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.