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Our Direct Service Programs

Providing a  variety of services  to court-impacted, incarcerated, and formerly-incarcerated individuals

This direct service group works alongside the Rikers Debate Project (RDP), a program that teaches inmates at Riker’s Island “competitive debate skills” for use in everyday life. YUPP is one of multiple partners who create weekly lesson plans for the students at Riker’s to use. 

The Yale students within the group select debate topics by researching and discussing current events and social policy. They then select a skills topic from the list given by RDP that matches well with the week’s debate topic. Some past lesson plans have covered:

  • Carceral disenfranchisement in New York State

  • Eliminating cash bail for low-income defendants accused of some crimes

  • Removing occupation and employment restrictions based on prior incarceration status

The skills lesson plans have covered evaluating evidence, public speaking, moral philosophies, evaluating evidence, separating fact from opinion, crystallization, arguing both sides, ARE (assertion, reasoning, evidence), and counter plans. 

Pardon Project

This direct service group assists returning citizens with the pardon application process that would allow them to clear their criminal records. 

This program was formerly in partnership with Project Fresh Start, the City of New Haven's Reentry Department. As a member of the Pardon Program, you will work one-in-one with returning citizens as well as leading pardon workshops for larger numbers of individuals.

Connecting Through Literacy (CLICC)

This group supports children of incarcerated individuals in strengthening their family ties. You will mentor children (ages 5-17) to encourage regular communication with their parents in prison and to enhance literary outcomes. Children will pick out a book and write letters back and forth with their parents about what they have been reading. Mentors support them through fun literacy activities and by being a consistent, encouraging presence.

Mentorship can take either in-person at New Haven library branches or virtually.

Project MORE / New Haven Adult Education Center

These other tutoring programs are another way to get involved with direct service. YUPP had a robust tutoring program at Manson Youth Institution in Cheshire, CT, before the pandemic, so restarting these programs is still in the works!

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