ACG Juvenile Justice

Inspiring focus and direction with beauty.

ACG Juvenile Justice is a music education program creating a safe space for incarcerated youth in juvenile detention centers. Safe spaces are created through group guitar classes that provide an environment to foster a sense of personal success and accomplishment while providing an outlet for personal expression. These TEKS-aligned, literacy based, guitar classes give students a chance to gain fine arts and community service credit while incarcerated. 

ACG Education has been working with the juvenile justice system in Travis County since 2010. In 2019 a 2nd juvenile justice program began in Williamson County, and a 3rd was developed in 2020 within Travis County’s Phoenix House.

“The first time I played guitar, I felt like it was made for me, like it’s what I’m meant to do. My mom is excited that I’m playing guitar. She’s always wanted one of her kids to play music….She’s coming to the concert next week.”

Jason, Student at Gardner Betts

“I already finished my fine arts credit, but I decided to stay in guitar. I just like it. It keeps me busy, keeps me out of trouble and makes me feel grounded. It calms me down when I’m feeling angry or upset, for real. When I start playing, my mind slows down and pretty soon I’m lost in the music and everything else goes away, like blurs, and it’s just me playing guitar.”

Kenneth, Student at Gardner Betts

“ACG has not only helped our youth SPARK their enthusiasm and creative expression in a healthy way, but has also helped us bridge the divide between youth of different backgrounds and hard places. We believe the arts can be a great tool in helping our own rehabilitation program move toward a more inclusive and restorative approach in supporting the youth we serve in the Juvenile Justice system.”

Scott Matthew, Executive Director, Williamson County Juvenile Justice Services

“Every student in Guitar starts out reluctant, afraid of failure, afraid of trying, and the ACG teachers coax them out of their protective shell, note by note, until they’re performing in front of crowds. It’s an amazing sight to see their faces when they look up and take in the effect they’ve had on those in attendance. Almost all choose to continue their guitar studies after they leave Gardner Betts, and ACG makes sure whatever school they’re enrolling in next is prepared to receive them with open arms. They’re hooked on music! And they’ve accomplished something they didn’t imagine they could.”

Kim Andersen, Austin ISD School Counselor, Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center


Austin American Statesman feature article

KUT Radio feature story

Watch Party: In-depth interviews and stories with staff and guests


We welcome inquiries from teachers, parents, school administrators, current or potential sponsors or partners, and media personnel. Contact us today.

ACG’s Juvenile Justice programs are supported in part by grants from

The Wright Family Foundation The Cain Foundation