Home News Center YJLI Fellow Treshika Melvin Creating Systemic Support for Youth Pushed out of Schools

YJLI Fellow Treshika Melvin Creating Systemic Support for Youth Pushed out of Schools

April 30, 2018
Josh Gordon



Treshika Melvin is a 2017-18 fellow in NJJN's Youth Justice Leadership Institute (YJLI), a year-long program that clears a broad path for people of color to lead us toward justice system reform. YJLI seeks to elevate the leadership of people of color who know how to transform the oppressive systems harming communities of color.

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Treshika Melvin is a graduate of Millsaps College and Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She has served as a youth advocate in various capacities since her teenage years, and is committed to creating and encouraging environments and communities where youth of color are supported to thrive. Furthermore, she strives to dismantle systemic barriers to young people’s success. Treshika currently serves as a Community Advocate at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Jackson, MS.We spoke with Treshika about her background and advocacy project.

What got you into youth justice reform?

“Shortly after graduating from high school, I began interning at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Mississippi and developing a more in depth understanding of youth justice work, particularly around issues facing children tried as adults.”

Tell us about your advocacy project.

“My advocacy project aims to create supports within school districts for young people who are pushed out through long-term suspensions and expulsions. My project specifically seeks to evaluate and address an area of the school-to-prison pipeline that is often neglected--what happens when youth are pushed out of schools, but return to school environments, and in what ways do or don't schools create restorative environments to keep youth in schools.

My project focuses on a single school district as a pilot, and evaluates how the district works to keep students in schools. Through the formation of a youth-centered community coalition within the district, I will be able to identify existing methods to support or push out students.  I will then develop recommendations for supports based on the experiences of youth pushed out of schools. These recommendations will serve as a model for creating school environments that support young people and allow them to thrive.”

What motivates you?

“Young people keep me going. It is out of the duty to protect them and create opportunities and environments for them to survive that I am motivated to continue this work.”

What’s your dream youth justice goal?

“My dream youth justice goal would be to create a system where young people are allowed to make mistakes without being forced to let that determine the rest of their lives, and are instead nurtured and supported to build the lives they want for themselves.”

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