The Right Turn Career-Focused Transition Initiative (Right Turn) provides a career development process for youth that are involved with or at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system.

Career Development Process for Youth

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOL-ETA) and led by the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), Right Turn is being implemented in high-crime and high-poverty communities across the country by non-profit and local organizations with expertise in career development, education, mentoring, youth development, juvenile justice, and disability.

Right Turn provides individualized education, training, and workforce development opportunities by engaging youth in a three-phase career development process that includes self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management. Youth meet regularly with program staff, mentors, and other caring adults to develop and implement an Individualized Career Development Plan (ICDP). Through weekly goal-setting based on each youth’s ICDP, Right Turn promotes employment, continued learning opportunities, and independent living.

Through this process, all youth will: identify their personal strengths and interests; learn about specific careers through employer guest speakers, informational interviews, and workplace visits; complete soft skills training; obtain hands-on work experience through summer jobs, internships, employment, and restorative justice projects; set and achieve education and training goals that align with personal career goals such as obtaining a high school diploma or GED, earning an industry-recognized credential, or pursuing postsecondary education; and receive ongoing support from case managers, mentors, and other caring adults.

Right Turn is based on a number of IEL-created foundational materials, as well as IEL’s experience operating the youth career-focused mentoring model, the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP).


Program Outcomes

Right Turn’s strength-based approach and career-focused design helps court-involved youth transform their lives. Right Turn participants reenroll in school, graduate from school, earn industry-recognized credentials, get jobs, and avoid reentering the system.  The impact of Right Turn goes far beyond performance measures. In communities across the country Right Turn sites have also seen the following:

  • Changed identities: Youth involved in the juvenile justice system are often seen as a detriment to themselves and thier community. Right Turn’s emphasis on careers and restorative justice helps youth redefine themselves.
  • New skills: Right Turn helps youth earn degrees and industry recognized credentials to demonstrate their value in the workplace.
  • Connections to work: Right Turn sites partner with employers and post-secondary education to get youth work experience, marketable skills, and jobs!

The first cohort of sites for Right Turn served 1,015 youth in 5 communities across the country (Los Angeles, Houston, Nashville, Louisville, and Lansing). Some of the key results include:

enrollment rate
0 %
attained a high school degree or equivalent
0 %
placed in skills training, post-secondary opportunities, the military, or jobs
0 %
remained in school at 12 month follow-up
0 %
received an industry recognized credential
0 %
of program participants recidivated
0 %

Success Stories

Foundational Resources

Individualized Career Development Plan

IEL developed the Individualized Career Development Plan (ICDP) for the Right Turn Career-Focused Transition Initiative. It is based on IEL’s work and experiences with the Individualized Mentoring Plan (see below) and Individualized Learning Plans. The ICDP helps young people through three phases: self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management.


Individualized Learning Plans Fact Sheet

An individualized learning plan is both a document and a process that students use – with support from school counselors, teachers, and parents – to define their career goals and post-secondary plans in order to inform the student’s decisions about their courses and activities throughout high school. This fact sheet also contains information about the three career-development phases incorporated in Right Turn.


Ready To Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP)

The Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program is IEL’s career-focused mentoring transition model. Currently operated in 10 states and the District of Columbia, 12 different organizations have served over 1500 youth since fall 2009. RAMP is a high-tech, career-focused mentoring program for youth involved with or at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system.

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