Colorado Springs Teen Court has been a successful program in misdemeanor court since 1994, using restorative justice and peer panels to teach young offenders to acknowledge what they had done wrong and to whom. This is usually face to face with those impacted.

Now it is part of a new merged nonprofit, Forge Evolution, with the mission “Empowering Youth, Forging Community.”

Volunteers and supporters learned more about Forge Evolution during a November fundraising Jewel of the Wine Tasting at Norris Penrose Event Center.

The evening of fun for adults was designed to raise the funds to help make the programs available at no cost, CEO Morgan Mote said. More than $50,000 was raised.

Teen Court deals with response after a crime is committed. Forge Evolution is for prevention, it was explained. “Working with a youth in the ‘preventative’ stage, before a crime is ever committed, is the ideal time to work with a teenager and create behavior change,” the evening’s program described.

“We don’t know what kids want or need until we listen to them,” said Mote. “We give our teens the right structure to make choices.”

The program works with kids before they get in trouble, she told guests.

Forge Evolution offers a drop-in location where ages 10-19 “have a positive environment where kids come together, hang out” where there are the resources “to be the very best versions of themselves they can.”

(forgeevolution.org)

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