Empowering the 9th District: YouthZone’s Impact through Diversion Programming

By Ali Naaseh-Shahry


YouthZone is a formidable force in Western Colorado, passionately supporting young people and their families through our award-winning diversion and advocacy program. Through our significant collaboration with the 9th Judicial District of Colorado, comprising Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties, we offer a comprehensive range of services to young individuals who encounter the judicial system.

Our approach to diversion is transformative – we prioritize personal growth, accountability, and corrective action over punitive measures. We recognize the detrimental impact of labels such as ‘offender’ or ‘delinquent’ on young lives and work to provide an alternative path. Diversion at YouthZone ensures that mistakes are acknowledged, accountability is taken, and young people have the opportunity to learn from their actions without enduring the long-term consequences of a criminal record.

So, what exactly is diversion? For us, it means offering young individuals an alternative to the traditional legal process. We provide a tailored program that includes thorough assessment, legal contracts, and a range of services to meet their unique needs. The services may encompass life skills training, substance use classes, restorative justice programs, public service, and parent education.

At YouthZone, our mission is to provide comprehensive assessment and advocacy to inspire healthy relationships between youth, families, and communities. We guide young individuals through their most critical years by providing personalized support, life skills training, therapy, and mentorship. Through our diversion program, they learn to manage emotions, communicate effectively, boost self-esteem, and shed negative behaviors. We empower them through our restorative justice program, involving them in activities that restore and heal relationships with victims, families, and the community. Collaboratively, the youth and their guardian develop a plan that may include community service, restitution, letters of apology, and personal growth.

The success of our diversion program is phenomenal, with 90% of our clients maintaining positive behaviors even after completion. This is a testament to our dedicated team, partnerships, and the resilience and growth exhibited by our young clients. Our highly trained and committed Youth Advocates drive the success of our diversion program. From court dates and assessments to weekly check-ins, life skills classes, and exit interviews, our team ensures that our young clients receive the guidance and resources necessary for their personal development.

The impact of our diversion program is substantial, with an impressive 83% of YouthZone clients avoiding further involvement in criminal activities, significantly surpassing the 59% among youth who do not receive diversion programs. By reducing crime and providing essential services to families in need, we are transforming lives and communities.

With a clear vision of fostering hopeful youth, strong families, and safe communities, YouthZone’s diversion program is at the forefront of achieving our mission as we provide alternative pathways to rehabilitation and growth. Our unwavering dedication to exceptional diversion programming and comprehensive family support has yielded remarkable results. Together, we empower our community’s youth, break the cycle of criminal behavior, and create a safer, prosperous future.

At YouthZone, we believe in the potential of every individual and the strength of a united community. Our diversion program is just one facet of our commitment to holistic youth development and family well-being. We will continue determinedly serving the evolving needs of the 9th Judicial District, steadfast in our support and enduring in our impact.


YouthZone is a family-first nonprofit that supports parents and guardians, families, and adolescents. From Aspen to Parachute, we offer parent counseling and education services, family resources, and comprehensive assessment and advocacy to inspire healthy relationships between youth, families, and communities. To learn more about how YouthZone can help, please call us at 970-945-9300.

Ali Naaseh-Shahry is a Colorado native who holds degrees in international public policy from the University of Colorado (BA) and University College London (MSc). He moved to western Colorado in 2015 to teach six-and-under ski school at the Aspen Skiing Company. Ali has taught a wide variety of academic and experiential subjects to people of all ages. Most recently, he worked as a special education teacher with the Roaring Fork School District, where he used data-driven decision making to improve his delivery of specialized instruction. Ali enjoys lift-access powder skiing, raft-access fly fishing, and spending time with his cats.