"ITM has taught me that, the better I am able to deal with my own ‘monsters in my basement,’ the better I can support our mentees still struggling to make change,” Brandon Overby, Credible Messenger

What is the Institute for Transformative Mentoring?

The Institute for Transformative Mentoring (ITM) is a dynamic new professional training program focused on the development of Credible Messengers working in the social services fields throughout New York City. 

ITM is a semester-long training course that is intended to help Credible Messengers heal and enhance their professional skills so they are better able to help others. ITM is structured as using restorative justice practices and interactive learning to support participants in engaging deeply with the material and each other. The course offers approximately 135 hours of class-time and activities. ITM will meet for a six-hour class every Friday from 12 noon to 6pm for 15 weeks at The New School. Smaller supportive tutorial sessions will be included during week. 

This is a program offered by the Center for New York City Affairs.

Who are Credible Messengers?

Credible Messenger mentors are community members with relevant life experience and social capital that give them the authority to challenge the norms and change the thinking of those with whom they work. In the justice context, Credible Messengers come from the same neighborhoods as the participants they support, have a history of justice-involvement themselves, and are engaged in their own healing and transformation. 

Upcoming Terms

Spring Term: January 22, 2018 - May 20, 2018 (Apply here)

How to Apply?


  • Currently employed as a Credible Messenger
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • Employer will subsidize tuition fee of $2000 for each admitted employee. (If your organization cannot afford the tuition fee, please contact ITM Program Director Saj Rahman at for information about scholarships.)
  • Letter of support from employer outlining:
    • Why they believe the applicant is a good candidate for the program
    • How the employer will support the applicant's development
    • Recognition of the financial and time commitment for this course

Application Process:

Please complete the online application for the term you wish to apply to: Spring 2018

“The Circle process allows people to learn from each other’s experiences which has been healing and inspiring,” Jevaughn Bennett, Credible Messenger

15-week course

The curriculum, developed collaboratively with non-profit managers, credible messengers, foundation leaders, and training and education experts, covers the following topics: Restorative Practices, trauma-informed care, social justice movements, employment expectations and non-profit management. It is divided into five units and a total of 15 sessions. Additional instruction and opportunities for reflection will be provided throughout the duration of the course during mandatory weekly small group sessions. The following summarizes the curriculum. The curriculum guide provides detailed content, materials, and objectives for course leaders.  
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 restorative 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 group cohesion and supports the idea that credible messengers can foster positive transformation in others through a critical understanding of their own lived experience. 
Unit 2: Foundations of Healing
Many Credible Messengers and the youth they serve 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 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, conflict mediation, mentoring and positive youth development is to help mentors heal, so they can help heal others.
Unit 3: Foundations for Youth Work                    
This section will provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the skills they have gained 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 appreciate their own personal development. This unit will include principles of case management and a review of motivational interviewing and other youth engagement strategies. Participants will work in small groups to design a lesson plan based on a need or skill set they have identified as necessary for their peers or mentees. Participants will present their plans at the final Circle Session. 

Unit 4: Workforce Readiness                                  
This section will 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 self-advocacy and working with supervisors. 

Unit 5: 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. 

Urban Matters | Justice |  Juvenile Justice

Life Lessons: The Difference Credible Messengers Make

By Elizabeth Walker

Mentoring programs rely on Credible Messengers to build trusting and transformative relationships with at-risk young people have proliferated, largely funded by City agencies like Department Of Probation and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The resulting mentor-mentee relationships have, in many cases, changed the trajectory of young lives. 

In 2016, a group of dedicated providers linked up with a progressive funder (the Pinkerton Foundation) and The New School to develop a college-accredited training program for Credible Messengers working in youth development. Called the Institute for Transformative Mentoring (ITM).