Courses for At-Risk or Justice-Impacted Youth

Join a community that offers hope – with a plan.

Children who are incarcerated are at risk of physical and psychological abuse, sexual assault, suicide and other harms, including inadequate educational instruction. The use of solitary confinement further deprives them of social interaction, mental stimulation and key services during a critical time of adolescent brain development.

Breaking the chains
Shackling Our Youth

Young people leaving the juvenile justice system are up against many obstacles as they seek to reintegrate into society. Many return to unstable homes, struggle to stay in school, and lack the skills needed for employment—all factors that increase the likelihood of re-arrest or re-incarceration.

Re-entry programs and resources are critical in improving young people’s odds of success when re-entering their community and in preventing a lifelong cycle of recidivism in the adult criminal justice system. Similarly, preventative programming can help steer at-risk youth away from criminal activity and toward a more positive and productive future.

In 2018, 728,280 children were arrested in the U.S. Despite a 63 percent reduction in child arrests between 2009 and 2018, a child or teen was still arrested every 43 seconds.[1]

Although the number of children in the juvenile justice system has been cut in half since 2007, 43,580 children and youth were held in residential placement on a given night in 2017. Nearly 2 in 3 were placed in the most restrictive facilities.[2]

In Illinois, a study showed that 86% of youth were re-arrested within three years of release from the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. [3]

Three african students female posed with backpacks and school items on yard of university.

Our Approach

Empowering Youth to Change the Trajectory of Their Lives

2nd Opportunity’s youth programming is catered to young people who are already entangled in the juvenile justice system as well as those who are at risk of incarceration. Our courses aim to build their dignity and self-worth while empowering them to improve their lives.

Our program presenters—men and women with lived experience themselves—serve as guides, helping participants build their confidence, providing resources and referrals to help them start down a positive new path, and arming them with the skills and tools they need to transition successfully into adulthood and achieve self-sufficiency.

Custom Program Offerings

All of 2nd Opportunity’s adult programming can be tailored to address the issues and challenges unique to the at-risk and justice-impacted youth population in order to give them the tools, resources—and hope—they need to change the trajectory of their lives. Our four methods of delivery—in person, via WebEx or Zoom, online, and via tablet—allow us to adapt to the situation and bring the greatest value and impact to organizations and program participants. 

We’re happy to work with organizations to design a custom program to meet their specific needs. Here’s an overview of our standard adult courses:

A Path Forward©

An employment-focused program with an emphasis on training and educational opportunities. We work on communication skills, conflict resolution, resume creation and interviewing, Department of Labor employment tools, teamwork, and the “Five Rules of Rational Thinking.” Participants are then given the information they need to develop a detailed, personal plan with an emphasis on housing, employment, and substance abuse aftercare (when appropriate).

A Path to Financial Freedom©

A financial literacy program designed to teach the fundamentals of functioning in today’s financial world. Basic skills covered include opening a checking account, budgeting, obtaining insurance, acquiring an automobile, filing taxes, applying for financial aid, filling out employment forms, establishing credit, and securing housing.

Values-Aligned Goal Setting©

An interactive workshop designed to help individuals determine their values and define their “bedrock” and “building” goals, as well as identify the specific activities necessary to pursue these goals. The focus is on career development, housing plans, relationship building and repair, and identification of potential obstacles to staying on the right path and achieving their goals.

Dedicated Support Network

We know firsthand that resources and support are essential to change the trajectory of your life, which is why enrollment in our programming also includes:


Referrals for employment, housing, substance abuse counseling, and other essential support services.


Skills development courses, lectures and webinars.

Support Groups

Virtual and In-person peer-to-peer meetings and connections.


One-on-one mentoring for those who need additional support.

Get Started

Have questions, or ready to start working with us to customize a program for the youth population your organization serves? Email us or call us at 847-257-2713 to take the first step.

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1 and 2. “The State of America’s Children 2020: Youth Justice.” Children’s Defense Fund, 2020,

3. Bostwick, L., Boulger, J., and Powers, M. (2012). “Juvenile Recidivism: Exploring re-arrest and re-incarceration of incarcerated youth in Illinois.” Chicago, IL: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority,