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photo by Naomieh Jovin

“If you sit down next to me, you better be ready to talk about string theory.”

Imean loves to learn about things he can’t physically see. His mind soars into other dimensions, in spite of the roadblocks he’s faced. At 15, Imean was arrested, for the first time in his life and charged as an adult. Almost as soon as YSRP engaged with him and his attorney, Imean’s case was decertified, or moved to the juvenile justice system. And, after spending a year in adult jail, Imean came home this Spring.

Imean credits reading with keeping him grounded while he was incarcerated. Imean loves to read. It provides him an outlet: “I’d rather deal with aliens invading my planet than a science test,” he says.

Talking with Imean, you wouldn’t know the challenging circumstances life throws at him each day. He’s a tinkerer with a mind for electronics and computing. He’s writing papers at school – including one about Black superheroes, and what it means for young Black men to have that kind of representation in mainstream media. He’s busy imagining alternate realities that he can’t yet see, and how to build them. And, he wants to know about you – who you are, what you’re reading. His intellect is unmatched. His perseverance is unparalleled. His potential is unquestionable. 

YSRP Reentry Coordinator Kat Bakrania wants stability for Imean. She wants reliable high-quality housing, access to food and laundry, and for him to just focus on being a teenager. His grades at school are really strong, despite the number of times life keeps him from attending. 


photo by Naomieh Jovin

Together, Kat and Imean crafted a Mutual Responsibility Agreement (MRA), or a plan where he names his goals, and earns incentive payments toward achievement of those goals. In fact, Imean met many of his initial goals – setting up a bank account, and reading three books every week. Now, he’s focused on preparing for college and taking the SAT, on getting a job to help out his family, and on building meaningful relationships with those around him. 

With Kat’s support – “she’s like a sister to me,” he says – Imean’s future is full of possibility. His next chapter, like his imagination, knows no limits.


photo by Naomieh Jovin

So, what is Imean’s next chapter? He’s going to finish high school. He wants to go to trade school to learn automotive mechanics. He wants to build and fix cars and, eventually, he’ll be able to buy the one he wants. He’ll pay rent, and have the stability in his home life that he hasn’t yet had. And, with stability, there is no limit to what he can achieve. 

And, Imean’s imagination will be challenged.

For his entire life, Imean has enjoyed thinking about unseen, alternate realities. With Kat’s partnership, he’s now ready to create one of his own. In his next chapter, Imean’s world won’t involve imagining a future yet unknown. It will be about witnessing what he’s built. And, when he  creates that reality, we know it will turn out to be brighter than he ever imagined.

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