Partners for Youth with Disabilities Awarded $1.1M Grant by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

BOSTON, MA — On September 15th, Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) was awarded a 3-year, $1.1 million grant by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). This grant will go to providing mentors to 290 youth with disabilities over the next three years, and to expanding the availability of high-quality mentoring for youth with disabilities across the nation.

Youth with disabilities face societal discrimination and environmental factors placing them at extremely high risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. This is especially true for youth with emotional disturbances and learning disabilities, who are at an increased risk of gang involvement, placement in secure care, and placement in correctional facilities.

From Regina Snowden, PYD’s Executive Director: “We are grateful to the OJJDP for recognizing that disability is an important part of considering the whole child. We believe and have long advocated for the fact that in order to adequately support at risk youth, disability has to be part of the conversation. We could not be more grateful to have this tremendous opportunity to bring our experience and knowledge to a national level in this important social issue.”

As a result of this grant, PYD’s one-to-one mentoring program, called Mentor Match, will be expanding to provide mentors to more youth with emotional and learning disabilities. Additionally, PYD will be working with three partner organizations to help them implement PYD’s best practices for mentoring youth with disabilities, providing mentors to more youth with disabilities across the nation. These organizations are: MentorABILITY (Wyoming), The Viscardi Center (New York), and The Orangewood Foundation (California).

Susan Nicastro, PYD’s Deputy Director, will serve as Project Director for this award. She stated that: “We know that mentoring is a key strategy to ensure that youth make a positive transition to adulthood. At risk youth with disabilities are less likely to have mentors in their lives and more likely to benefit from mentoring. The resources provided by this generous award will help close this gap and bring mentoring to youth who need it the most.”

From Genelle Thomas, PYD’s National Center Director: “PYD’s National Center for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities is committed to guiding and supporting organizations as they seek to develop programs to improve outcomes for youth with disabilities. This award will enable PYD to leverage its 31 years of experience developing mentoring programs for youth with disabilities, and ensure that many more youth benefit from the power of mentoring. Through this award, we will support organizations as they implement a proven strategy to support at risk and high-risk youth with disabilities.”

This grant further reinforces PYD’s position as a national leader for mentoring of youth with disabilities.

About Partners for Youth with Disabilities: Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) empowers youth with disabilities to reach their full potential by providing transformative mentoring programs, youth development opportunities, and inclusion expertise. We motivate youth to reach their personal, educational, and career goals, and guide organizations in becoming more inclusive. PYD currently runs four direct-service programs that serve youth with disabilities in the Greater Boston area, and a training center that helps organizations across the country and world become more inclusive of youth with disabilities. You can learn more about PYD at, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Viscardi Center: The Viscardi Center is a network of non-profit organizations that provide services that educate, employ and empower children and adults with disabilities across the lifespan, based in Albertson, NY. Since 1952, Abilities, Inc. at The Viscardi Center has been preparing adolescents and adults with all types of disabilities and levels of experience for entry or re-entry into the workforce by assisting them in securing pre-employment services and employment. Learn more at

About MentorAbility: MentorAbility is a youth initiative of the Uinta County Business Leadership Network in Evanston, Wyoming, assists rural youth with disabilities to become employed. The program engages the active participation of local employers in providing career exploration and internship opportunities designed to enable youth to gain career guidance, insight and experiences they need to obtain jobs and develop meaningful, rewarding careers. Learn more at

About the Orangewood Foundation: The Orangewood Foundation serves current and former foster youth in California’s Orange County and is a private, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established in 1981 to raise money to build a replacement emergency shelter for Orange County’s abused, neglected, and abandoned children. The mission of OCF is to provide life-changing prevention and intervention programs for abused and neglected children, young adults, and at-risk families through one-on-one support and community partnerships to end the cycle of child abuse. Learn more at

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