Project Profile

El Salvador Juvenile Justice Project

Project Name

Juvenile Justice Project


USAID/El Salvador

Prime Contractor

World Vision

Partner Organization

Resonance, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), and the National Foundation for Development (FUNDE)


El Salvador

Time Period

October 2017 – September 2019


Navigating the critical transition from childhood to young adulthood can be challenging under any circumstance. In El Salvador, however, this transition is particularly fraught. El Salvador has one of the world’s highest homicide rates and nearly one in three Salvadoran households experience poverty. Gangs exercise territorial control and extort residents in municipalities throughout the country. In Latin America, El Salvador has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment, and the percentage of youth in the informal sector is well above the average. With limited opportunities, thousands of youth are forcibly recruited or turn to gangs as a way of earning resources or protection. For young people seeking to resist the pressure to join a gang, migration – generally to the United States – is often seen as the only escape route.


The USAID/El Salvador Juvenile Justice Project works with public and private partners for the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth who have come into conflict with the law (YICL), particularly those who have received alternative sentences (i.e., punishments other than a jail term). The project seeks to enable El Salvador’s juvenile justice system to reduce recidivism rates for YICL. The project focuses on young people (ages 12-17), who are eligible for alternative sentencing programs within the municipalities of Santa Ana, San Miguel, San Salvador, Colon, and Zacatecoluca. The project’s four core objectives are:

  1. Build capacity within the public sector juvenile justice system to more effectively advocate for, manage, and monitor YICL.
  2. Increase the number and improve the quality of accredited alternative sentencing programs accessed by YICL (to reduce detention rates).
  3. Engage the private sector as employers, mentors, and co-founders of programs used in alternative sentencing.
  4. Increase support for alternative sentencing among juvenile justice stakeholders.

Resonance worked to cultivate high-impact partnerships with the private sector to advance the objectives of the Juvenile Justice Project. Resonance engaged the private sector as employers, mentors, and co-founders of activities for alternative sentencing to benefit target youth.

Key Results

  • In its first year on the project, Resonance conducted a Rapid Partnership Appraisal (RPA) to examine the current and potential role of the private sector – both private businesses and education providers – in addressing gaps in El Salvador’s education and youth workforce development, with a special focus on the YICL target group. As a result of the RPA, Resonance identified 14 potential partners to engage in the project.
  • Resonance designed and launched four private sector partnerships for the Juvenile Justice Project. These included:
    • Collaboration with a human resources association (ALTHES) to advise companies on inclusive human resources practices and facilitate private sector opportunities for YICL;
    • Partnerships with a technology company (CASS), a transport and logistics company (Transporte Logisticos Integrados), and a food and retail company (Casa Bazzini) to provide internship and employment opportunities for participating youth.
  • Resonance developed a Private Sector Opportunity Kit to formalize private sector interactions with the Juvenile Justice Project. The kit included information on partnership agreements, internship and mentorship guidance, and templates for partnership development and implementation.
  • The Juvenile Justice Project worked with community- and faith-based organizations to pilot World Vision’s “Ready for Life” program as an accredited alternative sentencing option. To better link “Ready for Life” participants with appropriate private sector opportunities, Resonance collaborated with World Vision to design an interview methodology, interview youth participants, and conduct an analysis related to their employability and private sector opportunities.

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