Better Family Life and MILPA Earn Casey’s 2019 Gloria J. Jenkins Award

Posted October 25, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Marcelle Perry-Rhone, John Pineda and Juan Gomez

From left: Better Family Life's Marcelle Perry-Rhone and the MILPA Collective's John Pineda and Juan Gomez

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion has named Bet­ter Fam­i­ly Life, Inc. and MIL­PA Col­lec­tive the recip­i­ents of its 2019 Glo­ria J. Jenk­ins Award. The award rec­og­nizes out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to juve­nile jus­tice reform by a com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tion and was pre­sent­ed at the JDAI Inter-Site Con­fer­ence in Seattle.

The award’s name­sake spent 40 years as a com­mu­ni­ty activist in Chica­go. Glo­ria J. Jenk­ins and her hus­band, Eddie, estab­lished the West­side Asso­ci­a­tion for Com­mu­ni­ty Action, or WACA, to improve the well-being of local res­i­dents through advo­ca­cy, direct ser­vices and com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment. When deten­tion reform began in Cook Coun­ty, Illi­nois, in the ear­ly 1990s, WACA estab­lished the first evening report­ing cen­ter in the Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive® net­work. The cen­ter filled a reform need by serv­ing as an effec­tive alter­na­tive to deten­tion for youth who had vio­lat­ed their probation.

Bet­ter Fam­i­ly Life

Bet­ter Fam­i­ly Life tack­les social and eco­nom­ic prob­lems by build­ing stronger con­nec­tions among young peo­ple, their fam­i­lies, their neigh­bor­hoods and the larg­er St. Louis com­mu­ni­ty. Since 2017, Bet­ter Fam­i­ly Life’s Com­mu­ni­ty Out­reach divi­sion has been work­ing close­ly with the St. Louis City Juve­nile Court to sup­port young peo­ple on pro­ba­tion super­vi­sion and their fam­i­lies. Its staff helps the court to iden­ti­fy and include every­one in a youth’s sup­port net­work as part of a team approach to help­ing young peo­ple on pro­ba­tion. Its staff is present for the first meet­ing between the young per­son and their pro­ba­tion offi­cer, facil­i­tates youth-fam­i­ly team meet­ings when young peo­ple encounter chal­lenges and is a sup­port sys­tem for youth and fam­i­lies through­out the young person’s time on super­vi­sion, and often beyond. This work is part of the organization’s com­mit­ment to com­mu­ni­ty- and fam­i­ly-dri­ven inter­ven­tions that keep youth away from out-of-home place­ment and pro­mote long-term suc­cess for young people.

MIL­PA Collective

The peo­ple behind MIL­PA Col­lec­tive, based in Sali­nas, Cal­i­for­nia, build rela­tion­ships with­in com­mu­ni­ties, orga­ni­za­tions, insti­tu­tions and sys­tems to pro­mote racial and social jus­tice and build the next gen­er­a­tion of com­mu­ni­ty-based lead­ers, includ­ing pro­vid­ing men­tor­ship to Casey’s JJSG Youth Advi­so­ry Coun­cil mem­bers. They pur­sue approach­es that are cul­tur­al­ly rel­e­vant, inno­v­a­tive and cen­tered on heal­ing and resilience. In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing train­ing and tech­ni­cal assis­tance to JDAI sites and oth­er sys­tems using cul­tur­al frame­works, they estab­lish best prac­tices that con­tribute to local, state and nation­al reforms. For instance, with the Vera Insti­tute of Jus­tice and in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with jus­tice sys­tem lead­ers, MIL­PA is work­ing to change the cul­ture with­in pris­ons and jails across the coun­ty that house young adults through the Restor­ing Promise Ini­tia­tive. Part of the cul­ture change is devel­op­ing young adults’ poten­tial through goal set­ting, peer sup­port, ther­a­peu­tic activ­i­ties, cul­tur­al heal­ing and com­mu­ni­ty and fam­i­ly engagement.

This award is in appre­ci­a­tion for what MIL­PA has done to uplift cul­ture, con­scious­ness and move­ment build­ing,” said Tanya Wash­ing­ton, a senior asso­ciate at the Foun­da­tion, in bestow­ing the award.

Read About the Win­ners of the Natal­ie S. Bimel Award

Read About the Win­ners of the JDAI Dis­tin­guished Sys­tem Lead­er­ship Award

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