March 27, 2020

This Seattle nonprofit intervenes when young people are in trouble and helps them find a new path forward

Meet Choose 180, one of the finalists for the 2020 Renewal Awards. Five winners will each receive $40,000 from The Atlantic and Allstate.

Choose 180 works with the criminal justice system to offer help, mentorship, and a choice to young people before they are charged with a misdemeanor offense..

Editor's Note

Meet the finalists for the 2020 Renewal Awards. The annual program from The Atlantic and Allstate honors nonprofits that are creatively solving problems in their communities. This year, five winners each will receive a $40,000 prize from The Atlantic and Allstate. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to find out who the winners are and follow the hashtag #RenewalAwards.

Do you believe in second chances? Choose 180 is making them possible every day.
The Seattle-based nonprofit helps change the trajectory of young people’s lives by presenting them with a choice during their most difficult moments.

By partnering with local institutions, such as the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, the nonprofit is able to intervene when juveniles and young adults get in trouble. Instead of being charged with a misdemeanor after an arrest, these young people are invited to attend a four-hour workshop.

These workshops feature speakers who offer inspiration by sharing their life experiences and how they survived, as well as small group discussions. While there, participants are invited to not only talk about their triggers for bad behavior, but also their hopes and goals for the future.

“So much of the time, when people are committing a crime, they’re in pain,” Choose 180 speaker Rebecca Thornton told The Seattle Times. During workshops, Thornton shares her experience with drug use as a teen and, as she connects with the young people participating, hopes to demonstrate that there is a different path forward. “If we can heal,” Thornton said, “then we can fix our future.”

The organization’s felony intervention program doesn’t end with the workshop. Participants are supported and given a success coach who helps them through the court process and creates a plan for future success.

“We all want to be seen for who we are, not for what we’ve done—we want to be seen through the lens of possibility,” Executive Director Sean Goode told the Seattle Times.

Choose 180 first began in 2011 and has only grown in scope since then. In 2018, the nonprofit partnered with local middle and high schools to create a five-week program to help students who are at risk of suspension and expulsion. Through their efforts, Choose 180 has supported more than 2,500 young people avoid prosecution and choose a different path. For their impact on young people’s lives, Choose 180 was recently named one of 15 finalists for The Renewal Awards, a program of The Atlantic and Allstate.

You can follow Choose 180 on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also donate to the nonprofit here.

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the Deputy Editor of The Renewal Project.
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