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We are a collaborative community-based 501c3 non-profit organization specializing in pre-teen  & teen behavior health, youth development and family strengthening programming. Created as an alternative to youth detention and student expulsion, we have compiled an exemplary record of providing services to challenged youth through a variety of programs and supportive services.  We are funded through private donations and both government and corporate grant funding.

Our Vision
As a community organization with high fidelity, our vision is to build a replicable "Village Model" concept, which reflects the understanding that many of the challenges our youth experience emanate from poor family dynamics.  Our intention is to provide individual/group mentoring , family supports, and prerequisite tools to enrich the family unit. 
Our Mission
Our mission is to develop youths' resistance to engage in negative behaviors and to progress academically and socially by developing PRIDE in self, family and culture.  As a proven non-profit vendor in our school systems, Take Charge Program's leadership team deploys robust school-based and data-driven programming to remove barriers that impede student success.

Our Approach
We provide innovative and culturally competent programming and services through our widely acclaimed interactive curriculum that is designed to reduce truancy, school suspensions, bullying, gang activity, disciplinary referrals, police contact, improve decision-making and to develop transferable leadership skills.

Our Founder
Shaar R. Mustaf

A Lifetime of Commitment


Shaar R. Mustaf was the Founder and former President of the nationally acclaimed Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program, Inc., of Forestville, Maryland.  Mr. Mustaf was a highly respected youth advocate, social activist, civil rights leader and social service professional whose work has directly impacted the lives of thousands of at-risk and adjudicated youth throughout Prince George’s County since starting the organization on a dream and shoestring budget in 1990.  A creative and cerebral visionary with a heart for disenfranchised and disadvantaged populations, Mr. Mustaf used cutting edge, scientific research-based programmatic solutions to solve hard to address social problems in the areas of deviant and criminal behavior by youth.

For Mr. Mustaf, the journey began in 1990 while working as a bailiff and juvenile court liaison.  Watching hundreds of “wrong track” youth incarcerated instead of educated, Mr. Mustaf began asking court officials if he could work with youth rather than sending them into the prison system where they would be exposed to more negative behavior.  The results were positive and as more youth were placed under his care, Mr. Mustaf developed the model which has now become the guiding principles of the Take Charge Program.

The son of a North Carolina sharecropper born in the Jim Crow South where segregation and racism were pervasive, Mr. Mustaf knew the value of hard work and family values.  He believed he could help youth deemed incorrigible by others, change their lives if he could help them build good character and strong leadership skills; mostly missing in single-parent, disadvantaged families.  Mr. Mustaf was known to tell his charges in the words of the great educator Booker T. Washington, “You should judge a man, not by the heights to which he has risen, but rather by the depths from which he has come.”

Shaar Mustaf has been honored for his social activism and civic achievements by the Prince George’s County Council, the Dream Foundation, The Washington Business Guide Magazine, J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, The Institute for Academic and Social Development, Northeastern University, the NAACP and as Parent of the Year by the USA Today  in 1989.

His achievements also have been chronicled in several newspapers, including The Prince George’s Post, The Prince George’s Gazette, the Washington Post, The Washington Magazine, the Washington Afro and The Prince George’s Sentinel. Additionally, Mr. Mustaf was featured in the documentary Girl Hood at Waxter Juvenile facility in Maryland.  A former resident of Greenbelt, Maryland, Mr. Mustaf attended Fayetteville Technical College in his native North Carolina, University of District of Columbia and University of Maryland where he received training and education in the field of sociology, family counseling and business management.

Shaar R. Mustaf Memorial Scholarship

All applicants are required to meet the following criteria before applying for the Shaar R. Mustaf Memorial Scholarship:
1.  Be a graduating high school Senior in the class of 2023.
2.  Provide Proof of Acceptance or Letter of Intent to a post-secondary program or institution (university, college, trade school, entrepreneurship/employment).
3.  Submit via email a 3-5 minute video presentation on a historical black figure or present how they will impact their community positively through their works.
5.  Have fulfilled a commitment of 5 hours of community service (this must be completed before the award is made). 
Deadline for all applications is May 30th, 2023.


Diversion Program

Our original program serves certain youth first-time offenders as an alternative to detention.  This highly acclaimed 16-week group rehabilitative program has reduced subsequent offending amongst participating youth by a convincing 90% non-recidivism rate.


Leadership Development

Leadership Development is a school-based program designed to cultivate self-awareness, self-control, and leadership qualities while eliminating negative behaviors of participants.  This program is aimed specifically for students during their critical transition years/ages in middle and high school respectively.


Leadership and STEAM

This program includes curriculum and activities that integrate leadership development tools with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.   The focus is to improve critical thinking skills, problem solving and to learn the fundamentals of technology and engineering.


Just For Her

Just For Her is a gender specific initiative developed to address the growing crisis facing adolescent girls and young women in their formative years. This program delivers a broad array of provisions that focuses on positive growth , social, emotional and behavioral wellness.


Global Citizens Forum (GCF) Stand Up & Take Charge Program

The GCF is an after-school youth program designed to foster youth leadership and develop skills to overcome various challenges youth may experience in their lives.  This program will improve youth’s help seeking behaviors that may include cyber bullying, cyber safety, teen dating violence and ideologically motivated violence.  These challenges are addressed through a skills-based curriculum that provides youth training to cultivate empathy, manage stress, become an upstander/peer helper, mitigate or resolve conflict and more.


Behavior Health Services

Take Charge Behavior Health Services provides a full complement of assessment and counseling services for youth, teens, young adults, and families. Specializing in behavior modification; ADHD/ADD/bi-polar support; grief, trauma, and loss issues; and youth with truancy, multi-suspensions, as well as their school-related behaviors, Take Charge licensed and experienced professionals are ready to serve you. Support for LBGTQ and substance abuse issues is also available.


Alcohol/Drug and Tobacco Cessation Counseling Services

Take Charge has been recognized as a leading service provider in Prince George’s County in the reduction of tobacco use among teens for the last ten years. The organization offers outpatient counseling and treatment programs and services to youth who are struggling with addiction and drug/alcohol/tobacco usage.

  • Re-Entry Transition

    The overreaching goal of the Take Charge Re-Entry Transition & Life Skills Services Program is to reduce recidivism, provide leadership, life coaching/mentoring and oversight to returning citizens.

    Our comprehensive re-entry initiative will provide individual support and service by coordinating efforts with the following goals and strategies: reduction recidivism, elimination of violence, elimination of substances/ alcohol abuses and treatment, job training/ preparation, legal resources and expungement, home acquisition, healthy domestic relationship and family strengthening, parenting development services, improved mental/ emotional/ physical health services, job placement and retention, life coaching and mentoring.

  • Young Fathers

    Strengthening young fathers has been designed to provide young dads with the skills and resources many young men lack. In addition to positive role models and “go to” resources, young male parents will have an opportunity to receive evidence-based workshop training that will result in improved communication with peers as well as their children, and interact with their child(ren) in planned play activities – bringing them together and providing positive experiences to build stronger bonds.


  • Life Skills

    Basketball And Life Skills
    Each summer, five-day Basketball and Life Skills Camps are conducted in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.   The camp offers comprehensive values-centered programs that use basketball as a linchpin to address issues challenging today’s youth.
    Camps promote anger management, conflict resolution, teamwork, and good sportsmanship and habits while helping youth stay occupied in productive activities.  Life skills are taught to increase youths’ abilities to resist negative peer pressure and help improve academic performance.  Educators and sports personalities serve as instructors for daily sessions that take place at selected local school gyms.
    For more information about this program, call the office at (301) 420-7395.

  • The Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program Inc

Executive Team

Let's See What Our Participants Say

Testimonial from our participants, sponsors and partners.

We never stop improving

Each year, Take Charge directly serves between 300-500 youth and families in the Washington DC Region.  Our talented staff of professionals pour their heart and souls into our youth to proudly make a positive impact in their lives and in our communities.  To continue this ministry of service, we humbly ask for your tax deductible financial donation. Complete the form below to make your contribution.

Our Impact

Our calculations examine the impact of the Take Charge Programs work and effectiveness, and compare the scope of work to our costs. This yields several estimates of our average impact per dollar spent in the following areas.


School Attendance

When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for graduating



Less than 10% of our program graduates re-offend


Academic Progress

We set standards to ensure students are successfully completing coursework


Risk Avoidance

Teaching skills to avoid compromising events entirely


Positive Outlook

We focus our programs to bring constructive changes into the students lives

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Various photos of participants, staff, volunteers, partners, sponsors and Take Charge Program events.