I: Development of
Friends of Island Academy (FOIA) is a private, not-for-profit organization providing services to youth, up to 21, who are making the transition from detention or incarceration to the community.
Friends of Island Academy and Friends of Rosewood are programs whose namesakes are derived from two Rikers Island-based Board of Education alternative schools:
The programs were conceived and created on Rikers Island in 1989 by Barbara Grodd and Norma Green. Ms. Grodd was the Director of Substance Abuse services for Montefiore Medical Center/Rikers Island Health Services, and Norma Green was the principal of the Island Academy.
These programs were initiated in response to the expressed intent of many of the youngsters at the school. They had a sincere desire to change the course of their futures.
Most of these young men were unable to follow through on the discharge service plans that were developed with and for them by their counselors. They needed more intensive guidance in restructuring their lives.
Primary among the obstacles these young men faced when returning to their neighborhoods and the negative pressure of their peers, were the ongoing, vexing problems of poverty, homelessness, drug abuse, chronic unemployment, family dissolution and the obvious widening economic disparity between the most affluent and least affluent sectors of society.
The question for these founders then became how to surmount the obstacles these youngsters confronted so that they could lead more productive lives.