The Alternative Edutainment University

ORGANIZATION NAME: Young Intellectual Active Minds (Y.I.A.M.)

LOCATION: Arkansas, USA

SUMMARY: The Alternative Edutainment University (AEU) is a creative residential educational campus designed as an alternative to prison for troubled males ages 14-21. The mission of the AEU is to prepare adjudicated youth for success by fusing education with entertainment to enhance the nation's Creative Economy, starting with Arkansas's human capital.

PROBLEM SPACE: Mass incarceration and the disproportionate number of minority males in the justice system is the critical systemic problem that the AEU will address. Many of these men get acquainted with the justice system at a young age, and most are adjudicated for non-violent offenses, which may lead to confinement in a detention/prison facility and a life-long negative reputation preceded by a judicial rap sheet. Along with issues related to juvenile and prison reform, there are also systemic problems related to the lack of workforce readiness and employment opportunities available to this population. AEU poses as an alternative system for these youth and young adults to channel efforts into getting an education, obtaining employment, finding passion, and fulfilling purpose. Establishing the AEU as a state institution will require state and local governments to attend to (1) policies concerning juvenile justice and prison reform affecting the adjudication and care of minority males in the justice system; (2) appropriate and effective rehabilitation strategies that will ultimately integrate the individual back into the community to become productive citizens, and (3) employment and training opportunities that enhance the value, skill and talent of the individual within the system.

SOLUTION: "The AEU is a residential campus designed with cultural and contextual consideration to the needs of males (ages 14-21) who are considered (or at risk of becoming) nonviolent offenders. There are 5 pillars that distinguish the AEU from other rehabilitation institutions:

1. The AEU offers an online academic platform. Students can complete high school state requirements in a self-paced, independent learning environment.

2. The AEU incorporates workforce development/vocational training into each resident's Individualized educational plan. The AEU focuses on exposing students to STEAMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Media) careers within creative industries. The AEU will house an Edutainment Center (revenue generating entity) that will provide entertainment to the community and employment for the students. At the AEU, entertainment is used as a platform to reach, teach, and employ students. Experience obtained also counts towards credit recovery.

3. The AEU houses transitional/residential facilities. It is the mission of the AEU to provide a safe, luxurious, and social living environment supportive of self-sufficient and independent living behavior.

4. All students are connected to life skills/community based programming. Students will have access to networks and entities within the community to aid in the transition to self-sufficiency in society.
5. Customized case management assures that each student receives the individualized attention by a creative case manager who will design a customized plan of action for graduation and transition into society.

The interconnectedness of all 5 pillars allows for this model to provide a holistic development approach to rehabilitating youth who are expected to reenter the community to become productive citizens. The ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism rates of these youth and young adults, connect graduates with permanent employment or opportunities for continued education, and produce social entrepreneurship solutions to solve challenges in 5 major areas: education, community, poverty, entertainment, and media."

CONTACT: [email protected]

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