Community Engagement Specialist

21 Aug, 2023


Community Engagement Specialist

Center for Justice Innovation
Harlem, NY


The Center for Justice Innovation (formerly the Center for Court Innovation) is a non-profit organization that works with communities and justice systems to advance equity, increase safety, and help individuals and communities thrive. The Center’s goal is to identify and resolve as early as possible the challenges that bring people into the criminal and civil legal systems. It does this in a number of ways—by developing and running programs that reduce the need for incarceration and enhance economic opportunity, conducting original research to identify what works, and sharing what we learn from our programming and research with those seeking to transform the justice system around the world.

The Center is an 800-employee, $100 million nonprofit that accomplishes its vision through three pillars of work: creating and scaling operating programs to test new ideas and solve problems, performing original research to determine what works (and what doesn’t), and providing expert assistance and policy guidance to justice reformers around the world.


Operating Programs

The Center’s operating programs, including the award-winning Red Hook Community Justice Center and Midtown Community Court, test new ideas, solve difficult problems, and attempt to achieve systemic change within the justice system. Our projects include community-based violence prevention programs, alternatives to incarceration, reentry initiatives, and court-based initiatives that reduce the use of unnecessary incarceration and promote positive individual and family change. Through this programming, we have produced tangible results like safer streets, reduced incarceration, and improved neighborhood perceptions of justice.



The Center’s research teams are staffed with social scientists, data analysts, and lawyers who are academically-trained or have lived experience and who conduct research in the U.S. and globally on diverse criminal-legal system and justice issues. Their work includes evaluating programs and policies; conducting exploratory, community-based studies; and providing research translation and strategic planning for system actors. The Center has published studies on topics including court and jail reform, intimate partner violence, restorative justice, gun violence, reentry, sixth amendment rights, and progressive prosecution. The research teams strive to make their work meaningful and actionable to the communities they work with, policymakers, and practitioners.


Policy & Expert Assistance

The Center provides hands-on, planning and implementation assistance to a wide range of jurisdictions in areas of reform such as problem-solving courts (e.g., community courts, treatment courts, domestic violence courts), tribal justice, reducing incarceration and the use of fines/fees and reducing crime and violence. Our current expert assistance takes many forms, including help with analyzing data, strategic planning and consultation, policy guidance, and hosting site visits to its operating programs in the New York City area.



The H.O.P.E (Heroin Overdose Prevention Education) program is a pre-arraignment diversion program that provides meaningful engagement between arrest and arraignment to individuals issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for possession of a controlled substance.

The Harlem Housing Help Center seeks to address housing instability and empower tenants with knowledge of tenant rights, court procedures, and helps residents navigate the court system and gain access to needed resources.

The Center for Justice Innovation if offering a unique opportunity to support both of these programs. Reporting to the Program Manager, Bronx HOPE, the Community Engagement Specialist will participate in a special time-limited project with the HOPE team and NYPD, (approximately 6-9 months), while learning and providing outreach and engagement to community residents and connecting them to the services of the Help Center at the Harlem Community Justice Center. Upon completion of the HOPE project, this role will be transferred to the Harlem Housing Help Center full-time. 

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

Project Hope (6-9 months):

  • Work with individuals who are arrested for controlled substance in Manhattan’s MTN and MTS precincts and motivate them to seek treatment, harm reduction and or recovery support services;
  • Work with the Peer Specialist team, Bronx HOPE to respond to NYPD dispatch calls;
  • Provide crisis intervention and support to program participants, as needed;
  • Work with the Peer Specialist team, Bronx HOPE to coordinate referrals and follow-up with participants as needed;
  • Coordinate and facilitate individual education that is responsive to the specific interests and needs of the individual, which may include a focus on treatment, harm reduction, and/or relapse prevention;
  •  Attend team meetings, supervision, trainings and perform other administrative duties, as needed;
  • Accurately and efficiently document client interactions;
  • Complete additional relevant tasks, as needed.

Harlem Housing Help Center:

  • Work with Housing Navigators to inform and engage with community members about the Housing Help Center;
  • Assist housing court litigants to understand, file and respond to housing court cases in partnership with court’s clerk’s office and legal services;
  • Assist community members with appointment booking with the onsite NYC Human Resource Administration, legal providers and other services;
  • Assist tenants and the housing court with coordination of court ordered access date follow up;
  • Participate in community outreach to promote the Housing Help Center and Harlem Community Justice Center, providing information on tenants’ rights and responsibilities and relevant available programs and resources;
  • Represent the Harlem Community Justice Center at tenant association and community meetings, as needed;
  • Keep detailed case notes in case management system and ensure high quality tracking of all Help Center client work;
  • Assist with the facilitation of community workshops and trainings on housing and civil justice topics in collaboration with legal service providers and advocacy organizations, as needed;
  • Attend all required staff meetings and trainings;
  • Complete additional relevant tasks, as needed.

Upon completion of Project HOPE, additional responsibilities for the Housing Help Center include:

  • Attend housing court proceedings to facilitate problem-solving justice and access to Help Center services on rent, repairs and holdover cases;
  • Respond to repair hazards through documenting violations, communicating access dates, and facilitating compliance with court orders in coordination with landlords, tenants and the court;
  • Cultivate neighborhood partnerships to ensure meaningful referrals to Help Center services;
  • Champion eviction prevention strategies, including but not limited to lease recertifications, tenant grievances, rental assistance applications, court attendance, education on affordability rules, financial empowerment, conflict resolution, etc;
  • Assist the Project Manager and Help Desk Coordinator with training and managing day to day tasks of AmeriCorps members and interns;
  • Assist with the planning and execution of the Help Center and Justice Center community events, outreach and court services.

Qualifications:  The ideal candidate will have a high school diploma (Associates degree prefered) and at least two years of experience with human services in community organizing and/or related housing experience. Relevant experience may include internships, volunteer positions, peer advocate training programs, community leadership positions, and/or participation in community groups such as tenants’ associations. Additional qualifications include:

  • A background of lived or work experience in the criminal legal system, housing system, substance use/behavioral health systems
  • Knowledge of city agency- and community-based resources and service providers a plus.
  • Willingness to work non-traditional hours, including evenings and weekends.
  • The ideal candidate will be a self- directed, dynamic facilitator who feels comfortable working with a wide range of people, and experience with housing advocacy, organizing and/or court.
  • Must show a demonstrated interest and ability to integrate equitable practices in court and community spaces;
  • Must be able to work with a diverse population in a mutually respectful manner, using a strengths-based approach;
  • Must be able to articulate a commitment to racial equity and how they integrate practices into their work;
  • Bilingual (English-Spanish) strongly preferred.

Position Type:  Full-Time, in-person. Candidates must be available to work in multiple locations including Midtown Manhattan, Harlem, and the Bronx. This position requires a specific schedule for the duration of the HOPE special project (6-9 months):

  • Tuesday 9am-5pm (Harlem)
  • Wednesday 9am-5pm (Midtown or Bronx, as needed)
  • Thursday through Saturday 4pm-12am (Midtown)

Compensation:  The compensation range for this position is $24.36 – $29.24 per hour based on a 35-hour work week and is commensurate with experience. This position is eligible for overtime at 1.5x the hourly rate above 40 hours per week. The Center for Justice Innovation offers an excellent benefits package including comprehensive healthcare with a national network, free basic dental coverage, vision insurance, short-term and long-term disability, life insurance, and flexible spending accounts including commuter FSA. We prioritize mental health care for our staff and offer services like Talkspace and Ginger through our healthcare plans. We offer a 403(b) retirement plan with a two-to-one employer contribution up to 5%.

The Center for Justice Innovation is an equal opportunity employer. The Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, national origin, age, military service eligibility, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or any other category protected by law. We strongly encourage and seek applications from women, people of color, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities as well as individuals with prior contact with the criminal justice system.

As of February 10, 2023, New York City Executive Order 25 rescinded the requirement of the COVID-19 vaccination for City workers, new hires, and contracted employees. Accordingly, the Center does not require all new hires be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus; however, the Center recommends all staff, interns, and volunteers stay up-to-date on the vaccination.

In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete an employment eligibility verification document form upon hire. Only applicants under consideration will be contacted. No phone calls or emails please.

Learn more here

Job posted: 2023-08-21