F.R.E.S.H Start Youth Initiative
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) F.R.E.S.H (Focusing Resources Effectively to Sustain Hope) Start Youth Initiative provides current and former DJJ youth supervised in the community with career opportunities. The program utilizes collaborative efforts and community resources to ensure youth access to gainful employment by partnering with local business owners. The initiative is a program in the Department's Office of Re-entry Services that facilitates youth's connections to services and support as they plan to transition back into their communities.
The F.R.E.S.H Start Youth Initiative kicked off in the summer of 2020 with the Pinky Cole Foundation. Established by Pinky Cole, the Slutty Vegan restaurants' owner, the foundation committed to hiring up to 30 current or former supervised Department youth at her restaurants and food trucks in metro Atlanta. Cole also committed to providing $10,000 in scholarship annually for Department youth to use toward college or technical school. To date, the foundation has awarded program participants four scholarships and received 26 employment referrals. Seven youth under the Department's supervision are now also employed by partners.