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In August, 2013, James S. Bethea, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Counselor Education, was awarded a $960,000 Pathways to Excellence, Achievement, and Knowledge grant (PEAK) sponsored by the New York City Dept. of Probation. The grant total is $480,000 per year for two years, with the option of two one-year renewals. The program is currently in its third year and Bethea was recently informed the program will be granted renewal for a fourth year, thereby making the total grant award $1.92 million.
The PEAK program is an Alternative-to-Placement program for adjudicated youth in the parole system and offers a comprehensive education, counseling, cultural enrichment, service-learning, extracurricular, and project-based learning program for participants and their families year-round. PEAK is part of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative, which consists of a comprehensive effort to help young Black and Latino men achieve their professional, educational, and personal goals.
PEAK combines elements of educational enrichment, behavior modification, and therapeutic services, and is provided in conjunction with ongoing probation supervision provided by the New York City Department of Probation. The program engages youth year-round who are in grades 8 through 12 and are between the ages of 14 and 18, during school hours as well as after school. The aim of PEAK is to increase positive outcomes for adolescents who are on and in jeopardy of being placed due to a probation revocation, as well as youth whose risk and offense severity levels at adjudication suggest they need rigorous programming in order to thrive in the community without the need for residential placement.
Utilizing an intervention strategy that provides extended-day, integrated educational and treatment services, the program seeks to provide participants with the structure and guidance needed for success by creating experiential learning opportunities with appropriate behavior modification and treatment services integrated into the program. Ultimately, students will improve education and behavioral outcomes as well as self-efficacy. The grant is sponsored by the New York City Department of Probation in collaboration with the Center for Economic Opportunity, and the Department of Education.
James Bethea, Ph.D., CRC, LMHC, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counselor Education at St. John’s University. He is also the Director of the St. John’s University PEAK program. He holds a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from The University of Iowa, a M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston University, and a B.S. degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from Mount Olive College.
Bethea’s research interests are in the areas of risk and resilience, self-efficacy, the resilient behavior of minority youth, and the family dynamic with children on the autism spectrum.