15 Week Course

This is a college course for currently employed credible messengers (Fall 2019 course runs August 30, 2019 - December 13, 2020).


Unit 1: Principles of Restorative Practices

The curriculum starts with an in-depth training on Restorative Practices. In this first section, students will learn to utilize these principles as they build group cohesion and begin the process of healing. Students will learn about oral story-telling using their own life experiences as a pedagogical narrative. This sharing enhances rapport-building and connectedness and lays the foundation for the idea that credible messengers can foster positive transformation in others through a critical understanding of their own lived experience. 

This section will require students to write their stories which will help them develop their communication skills. They will also learn how to create lesson plans and lead activities that create group cohesion among the youth they serve. This unit will conclude with a three-day retreat at Ramapo for Children, where Credible Messengers will continue to develop their problem-solving skills and learn activities that they can use at their agencies to foster group cohesion. 

Unit 2: Foundations of Healing

Many Credible Messengers have undergone the abuses of the justice system in addition to having experienced significant trauma from early childhood into adulthood. Healing is essential. In this section, students will explore how prior ordeals influence their present behaviors and how healing is critical to recovery and leading a healthier, more productive life. The goal in educating Credible Messengers in the principles and practices of mental health and wellbeing, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), & trauma-informed care, is to help them become healthier so they can be a strong, reliable resource for the youth they mentor.

Unit 3: Understanding Historical Trauma

Understanding the history of current policy and practices of mass incarceration in the U.S. is essential for Credible Messengers in grasping how the dominant culture has criminalized and traumatized them. This gives them the critical framework to be effective advocates for their mentees and become people who are part of the movement to create alternatives to imprisonment. We will also study the history of social justice movements in the U.S. and explore ideas about how to further the alternative to incarceration movement. In this section Credible Messengers will learn critical thinking skills, and criminal justice advocacy.

Unit 4: Foundations for Youth Work

This section will provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the skills they’ve gained from the course and shift the focus from their own healing to how they work with young people.  

This section covers the core tenets of youth development and working with young adults.  Participants will also discuss adolescent brain research and how this understanding of how young people make decisions, evaluate risks and rewards, and relate to peers and others can help them work with young people and to appreciate their own personal development. This unit will include principles of case management and a review of motivational interviewing and other engagement strategies. Participants will work in small groups to design a lesson plan based on a need or skillset they have identified as necessary for their peers or mentees. They will conduct research, gather resources and develop a lesson plan.  Participants will present their plans at the final Circle Session.

Unit 5: Workforce Readiness

This section will also cover employment related topics, such as presentation, identifying personal skills and attributes, employer expectations, and job interviewing and career planning.  It will also encourage participants to consider the mission and culture of their organization, and provide coaching in communicating and working with supervisors.