A Systems Change Paradigm for Education and Juvenile Justice

Gregory L. Volz is a member of the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission Youth Court Advisory Committee, scheduled to recommend new youth court legislation to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2019. He helped design, and presently teaches a youth court course at Harcum College. He is a founding member of the Philadelphia Region Youth Court Advisory Board (PRYCAB) which advocates that youth courts are a cost-effective intervention to block the school-to-prison pipeline.

In 2008 he was awarded a fellowship by the Stoneleigh Foundation to develop a youth court model for Pennsylvania. Collaborating with the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he trained law and undergraduate students, lawyers and other professionals to run youth courts. He has started youth courts in three states, and in 2013 drafted a youth court bill for Pennsylvania.

Mr. Volz also held the position of Executive Director of Delaware County Legal Assistance Association, Inc. in Pennsylvania. Mr. Volz has received awards from the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development, the Southwestern Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and Pennsylvania Council of Social Studies. He authored or co-authored 9 articles on poverty, citizen participation, and youth courts. The fourth edition of his Youth Court Training Manual was published in 2018 by Arch Street Press, a subsidiary corporation of I-Lead, Inc.

Mr. Volz, Esquire earned a JD from Indiana University School of Law in 1978. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Guidance from Indiana University.

Kathleen M. Smith holds the academic rank of professor and is currently the Director of Law and Justice at Harcum College where she co-developed a college course on Youth Courts. Her prior higher education experience includes directing the paralegal program and founding and directing the Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society at Community College of Philadelphia. Her work has focused on civic engagement projects, reentry support, youth court and service learning opportunities. Her work in developing service learning opportunities has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Bar Association which awarded her the Jeffrey A. Enrico Award for Public Service.

She has also been the co-recipient of four League of Innovation Awards and has a finalist for the Bellwether Award. Her work on youth courts has been honored by the Pennsylvania Social Studies Council  She has also served as Commissioner on the American Bar Association Standing Committee for the Approval of Paralegal Programs and serves on the statewide committee on Youth Courts. Ms. Smith earned a B.A., cum laude, from the College of the Holy Cross and a J.D. from Antioch School of Law.

Theory of Change

Zero tolerance policies in schools, initiated in 1994, have earned criticism in the last few years because of school administrators apparent inability to distinguish between major and minor infractions. There have been numerous articles stating that zero-tolerance has a dramatically disproportionate and adverse impact on students of color, particularly African American students for behaviors such as truancy, vandalism, disorderly conduct and petty theft.


The financial and technical support from the Stoneleigh Foundation for five years was key to developing the Chester Youth Courts and nurturing a Pennsylvania Youth Court movement.