PJI Pals is a mentoring program for children between the ages of 8 and 14 with incarcerated parent(s) that aims to expose children of incarcerated parents to extracurricular activities they might not otherwise experience given that their parent(s) is/are no longer in the home. In addition, it is designed to expose children with incarcerated parents to the university — to make them feel comfortable in that setting and to help them develop relationships with college students, so that they can envision themselves in a similar position in the future. Through mentorship and cultural enrichment, we hope to help mentees build and maintain self-efficacy and a sense of empowerment. Our hope as mentors is to create a space in which both mentees and parents/guardians feel comfortable enough to engage and enhance through their personal experience.
1 in 28 children in the United States have an incarcerated parent, and 50% of those kids are under the age of 10. PJI Pals aims not only to bridge the gap between youth and incarcerated parent(s), but also intends to foster meaningful growth and development for children between ages 8 and 14. Through engagement with Georgetown University students on and off campus, participants will be exposed to culturally and socially enriching opportunities that will nurture self-confidence and self-empowerment. Research shows that the support and guidance of a mentor improves children’s chances of college attendance by 55% and the holding of a leadership position by 130%. PJI Pals is committed to cultivating stability and opportunity through mentorship.
Mentors are recruited through the outreach efforts of Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, which targets students with specific interest in criminal justice reform. Under Georgetown’s Office of Compliance and Ethics, all affiliates of PJI Pals are required to complete the Protection of Minors Training, the Assumption of Risk form, and if applicable, the Driver Authorization Form to ensure the safety of all participants. The program is designed to have two mentors for each child and all affiliates are Georgetown University undergraduate students, faculty, or staff.
Last year, the program coordinators developed a strategy to identify and recruit mentees through schools. Schools were identified based on their location in D.C. wards with the lowest per capita income rates, highest rates of unemployment, and highest rates of arrest. As such, we selected wards five, seven and eight. More information on public schools in Washington, D.C. can be found here.
PJI Pals is currently seeking Georgetown undergraduate students to serve as mentors. To ensure consistency and stability for the mentees, all interested student mentors are required to commit to two Saturdays a month for at least two semesters. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please fill out our interest form and a member of the PJI Pals team will contact you shortly thereafter.