Face to Face youth are interrupting the cradle-to-prison pipeline


photo of hanna getachew-kreusserFrom the desk of Hanna Getachew-Kreuser, MA 
Executive Director of Face to Face 
[email protected] 


Dear Face to Face Friend,

When I talk to the youth who use Face to Face’s services, they all have one thing in common: they want to stop the suffering they see in their communities.

Isn’t that what we all want? To see our loved ones and neighbors not only have their needs met but also find true peace and belonging in the community.

The problem is we are surrounded by broken systems.

Our community, state, and country have enough resources for all youth to not just survive but thrive. Yet, the systems meant to distribute these resources are broken.

It is heartbreaking to see some young people reach their full potential because they have access to resources, while others struggle with homelessness, untreated health problems, substance use, and even face death, many while still in middle school.

Our youth deserve the chance not only to survive but to be valued and realize their full potential.

At Face to Face, we’ve created a system where young people address our community’s problems themselves.

Face to Face youth leaders speaking to the community.

In 2017, we formed a Youth Leadership Council because we believe the young people facing many barriers to getting their needs met are the experts on their challenges. At meetings, youth share their biggest pain points and ideas to solve them. We then support them by changing or creating the programs they need to bring their ideas to life and solve these complex problems together.

In 2019, the council decided they wanted to interrupt the cradle-to-prison pipeline.

They shared with us how most of them had interactions with the criminal legal system or law enforcement long before they found supportive services to address their struggles.

Face to Face youth leaders advising Minnesota Lt. Governor.

These discussions led to advocacy conversations with Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and our participation in the (Re)imagining Justice for Youth collaborative. Through this collaborative, we worked with Ramsey County, community members, public defenders, and other system partners to (re)imagine justice for youth.

With youth leading the way, this brought about the formation of our Youth Justice Program in partnership with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.

Since the launch of the program, hundreds of young people have found freedom in taking responsibility for their actions while gaining the skills to work through conflict in a healthy way. By identifying the root causes of their behavior and providing needed support, we have collectively disrupted the prison trajectory.

Youth decided they wanted to interrupt the cradle-to-prison pipeline and they did it.

“All went well with the court hearing. We are very thankful that his charge got dismissed. I see he is more happy and more optimistic to make goals and coming up with ways to reach them.”
– Youth Justice Program Guardian

“I learned in the community circle how to forgive myself and focus on the kind of man I want to be.”
– Youth Justice Program Participant

“I was skeptical of the entire process at first, but I saw how it transformed my son’s life. His grades have turned around, he’s now much more focused in school, he has aspirations and plans for the future because of the restorative justice process.”
– Youth Justice Program Father

To continue investing in our community in this way, we need your support.

When you donate, you ensure we have funds to change and create programs as young people advise us.

We need your support so we can continue to provide pathways for young people to use their voices and hone leadership skills on their journey of becoming agents of change.

Click here to donate now at face2face.org/donate.

When you join us in this work, together we get to create a world where all youth are valued for who they are and realize their full potential, today.

Thank you for giving generously,

Hanna Getachew-Kreusser, MA
Executive Director
[email protected]


P.S. – Our recording arts programming offered at SafeZone drop-in day shelter also started because of the Youth Leadership Council. A young woman shared she needed a creative outlet to help her de-stress in a healthy way. The council helped design the program and now we have a case manager who specializes as a teaching artist to support young people’s creative endeavors through a recording studio and open mic sessions.


Get Face to Face Updates!

What we do

Face to Face supports youth ages 11 to 24 with health care, mental health services, and basic needs services for youth experiencing homelessness. We serve over 3,000 youth every year.

Learn more

Call 651.772.5555

Arcade Location

Health Clinic & Admin Offices
1165 Arcade Street
Saint Paul, MN 55106

Hours & directions


Drop-In Center
130 East 7th Street
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Hours & directions

Web Accessibility


Face to Face