MBF grant provides unique summer experience for Worcester youth

Issue May 2007 By Kate O’Toole

The MBA is proud to announce the revival of the Supreme Judicial Court's Judicial Youth Corps program in Central Massachusetts thanks to a grant of more than $20,000 from the Massachusetts Bar Foundation.

When the Judicial Youth Corps program originally began in 1991, high school students in Boston, Worcester and Springfield were eligible to participate in legal education training and courthouse summer internships in their respective cities.

MBA Director of Community and Public Services Elizabeth O'Neil looks forward to the expansion of the program to Worcester.

"The Judicial Youth Corps not only teaches teenagers about professionalism and proper business practices, but exposes students to the criminal justice system in a positive manner," O'Neil said. "It gives students the chance to see how the judicial system truly works and see the ways in which it benefits the public."

In recent years, however, the Judicial Youth Corps has been limited to Boston students due to financial constraints. In recent years, the Boston program has been funded by the Boston Private Industry Council.

This year, the SJC and MBA received a Fellows Grant from the MBF to restore the program in Worcester. Jim Rosseel, a teacher and lawyer in Worcester, will teach, coordinate and supervise about 10 public school students who applied and were accepted into the program. 

"I am proud that the MBF can play such a pivotal role in the renewal of this important project in Worcester, and welcome the opportunity to work closely with the MBA to support this innovative community initiative," said MBF President Carol A. Witt of Salem. With the program's solid track record and strong reputation in Boston, I have high hopes for its success in the central part of the state."

Joan Kenney, public information officer for the SJC and longtime coordinator of the Judicial Youth Corps, is excited to see the program back in Worcester, and called the assistance of the MBA and MBF "crucial to this effort."

Designed for urban high school students, the Judicial Youth Corps program was established by the Supreme Judicial Court's Public Information Office in 1991. The program teaches young people about the judicial branch of government and fundamental principles of law. The four-month program consists of two educational components: a seven-week orientation to the court system and a seven-week courthouse internship session in July and August.

Kenney described the dedication and volunteerism of judges and attorneys as "invaluable" to the success of the program. "I get many calls and e-mails throughout the year from students, teachers and parents who have heard about the program and want to participate. The Judicial Youth Corps is successful because the students are eager to learn about the role of the courts and the law in their lives, and the judges, lawyers and court staff are happy to guide and support them."

The seven-week orientation program will be abbreviated in Worcester this year, but the summer internships and educational sessions will be on the same schedule as the Boston program.