In collaboration with the New York City Department of Education, JCCA opened a transfer high school, Brooklyn Democracy Academy, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn in 2008. The transfer school model, reengages over-aged/under-credited youth who are at risk for dropping out, or have already dropped out of high school. A great majority of the students are living not only with poverty and educational challenges, but in environments in which violence, substance abuse, and criminal behavior are also prevalent. In addition, there are students who have been involved in the juvenile justice system, have a history of foster care placement, or a history of pregnancy and/or parenting. The school provides opportunities for these youth to complete their high school education, go on to college or vocational school, and find meaningful employment.
Brooklyn Democracy Academy enrolls 200 students, which enables the school to provide each student with the benefit of individualized care and guidance through the support of specially-trained counselors and teachers. The school’s curriculum model integrates flexible but rigorous, standards-based instruction with a comprehensive support structure including counseling, small group work, leadership development, and community building. This structured plan creates an educational environment that employs the best practices of youth development, fostering academic achievement, and future success.
When Brooklyn Democracy Academy opened, JCCA added “Sanctuary,” a program enhancement which integrates elements of Sandra Bloom’s “Sanctuary Model®,” into the school philosophy. The Sanctuary Model® is a trauma focused, evidence-informed intervention model that provides a framework to help traumatized youth deal with future experiences without resorting to behavior that is harmful or destructive to themselves or others – essentially reenacting the hardships that they have experienced. The incorporation of aspects of this intervention model is historically unique to the transfer school system.