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Kalamazoo College

Helping Youth Through Personal Empowerment


The HYPE (Helping Youth Through Personal Empowerment) program at the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home is dedicated to promoting restorative, community-based justice by building meaningful relationships with the youth in the juvenile home and through advocacy within the Kalamazoo community on their behalf. Every Saturday, 15 K College students visit the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home (KCJH) to serve as mentors to the incarcerated youth. Students employ “peace circle” techniques to help youth develop effective conflict resolution abilities, as well as to discuss personal and social issues. Students in the HYPE program try to help youth foster trusting relationships, creative expression, and reflection and dialogue skills.

Every spring, the members of HYPE also help bring the PeaceJam program to the KCJH. PeaceJam is an international education program in which Nobel Peace Laureates work personally with youth to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities. Students plan service activities and educational programs for KCJH residents in coordination with the PeaceJam curriculum with the goal of increasing the youths’ aspirations, leadership, and attitudes about human rights and social justice, and reinforcing to the public the strong potential and worth of the incarcerated youth who can be empowered to be agents of positive change in the world.

HYPE began in 2005, when Michigan Campus Compact awarded a Venture grant to “K” sophomore Arianna Schindle and KCJH.


Each quarter, all students must attend a mandatory orientation/training session, complete appropriate paperwork, and attend mandatory reflection sessions throughout the term.  To be a member of the HYPE group, students commit to the program for an entire academic year. They learn a great deal from the close relationships they forge with the residents there – lessons about the inequality of opportunity, the causes and consequences of violence, and the tremendous resilience of young people. These students have sought to raise consciousness on campus regarding juvenile justice issues through lectures, films, and panel discussions.

Location: Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home, 1424 Gull Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49048

Program Times: TBD

Position: Mentor/Facilitator

Contact: Esther Yi and Michael Watson