We defend the Bronx.

The Robert P. Patterson Jr. Mentoring Program

The Robert P. Patterson Jr. Mentoring Program

The Robert P. Patterson Jr. Mentoring Program at The Bronx Defenders is designed to serve young people in the South Bronx. We have an inaugural class of 11 mentees, ages 14 through 18. Through our holistic mentoring model, we aim to expand each young person’s support system while strengthening their positive social network through educational and emotional support, community engagement, and exposure to new and exciting experiences.

Our program was developed in close collaboration with young people from various backgrounds in the South Bronx, whom we call “Youth Ambassadors.” With the input and support of our Youth Ambassadors, we have carefully crafted a program tailored to the needs of the community, as determined by the community.

Our holistic mentoring model equips each young person with:

  • A professional mentor from the legal field, including but not limited to paralegals, legal advocates, public defenders, and private attorneys
  • A community mentor from the Bronx community, ranging from community organizers, activists, educators, and advocates
  • Social work services provided by the Social Work Practice at The Bronx Defenders
  • Engagement of a caregiver

Our diverse group of mentors each receives several weeks of intensive training on practices critical to youth development, mentorship and diversity.

Offerings and activities include but are not limited to:

  • Monthly mentoring sessions between each mentor and mentee
  • Monthly group sessions and activities
  • Monthly one-on-one check-ins between program directors and each mentor, mentee and care-giver
  • Weekly restorative justice circles focused on processing and healing direct and/or indirect trauma and conflict
  • Weekly academic support sessions through goal setting workshops, progress check-ins, and specialized tutoring sessions
  • Seasonal back-to-school drives
  • Seasonal career and college readiness workshops
  • Seasonal college campus tours
  • Professional and recreational field trips, including but not limited to outdoor team building activities, as well as events focused on culture, the arts, and scholarship
  • Social justice and community engagement initiatives
  • Parent support groups

Here are the thoughts of one of the many families who have benefited from the full range of services offered by RPP:

“I know my daughter is very active in school, but she has been introverted in my house for as long as I can remember. I’ve noticed that since joining RPP though, she has gained so much more confidence and has become assertive in areas where she wasn’t before. For me, RPP makes space for people to belong, and the atmosphere is always warm and inviting. It’s not like other programs I’ve seen where things are forced and burdensome, and that’s one of the reasons I believe Emily loves it so much. My husband and I actually look forward to being there and are always made to feel welcome as parents in the parent engagement meetings.” – Rose Hostos, mother of mentee Emily Feliciano

“To me RPP is a place where youth like myself can come together and learn important life lessons and skills to empower ourselves and others. I have had the chance to be a part of something outside of school and meet and interact with people from my community and create new relationships. It has given me an opportunity to learn more about the career in law that I want to pursue in the future to interact with people in that field. It has also given me a chance to express how I feel, not only about the issues we face as a community but about the challenges I personally face in everyday life. I am thankful to be a part of the RPP program and everything it has done for me. ” – Mentee Emily Feliciano

A Note on Judge Patterson Jr:

The Robert P. Patterson Jr. Program was developed to honor the life and memory of Judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr., who believed that lawyers have an instrumental role to play in mentoring youth in low-income communities. In the spirit of Judge Patterson Jr. and his work, our program is dedicated to cultivating community ties, supporting youth and their families, and increasing positive and empowering interactions with the law.


If you are interested in additional information, or if you are interested in supporting our work by donating time or resources, please contact us at RPPMentoring@bronxdefenders.org. You can keep up with us on instagram at @robertppatterson_mentoring.