Casey Awards Grants to Juvenile Justice Reform Projects Led by Young People

Posted September 6, 2022, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Young male giving presentation to colleague. Professionals are working in room. He is wearing casual clothes.

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion announced fund­ing for three juve­nile jus­tice reform projects led by youth and young adults who have per­son­al expe­ri­ence with the jus­tice sys­tem. Seek­ing to ele­vate the voic­es and lead­er­ship poten­tial of these young peo­ple, the Foun­da­tion issued a request for pro­pos­als with the help of alum­ni from Casey’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Youth Advi­so­ry Coun­cil.

The three grantees are the Cen­ter for Jus­tice-Impact­ed Stu­dents at Mid­dle­sex Col­lege in New Jer­sey, the Legal Aid Soci­ety in New York City and the Final 5 Cam­paign in Illi­nois. They were select­ed from a pool of 64 pro­pos­als by coun­cil alum­ni, Foun­da­tion staff and oth­ers. Each will receive a $50,000 grant.

We received a strong response to the request for pro­pos­als, many of which were quite good,” says David E. Brown, senior asso­ciate with the Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group. The grantees we chose demon­strat­ed the high­est lev­el of youth engage­ment and lead­er­ship by youth affect­ed by the juve­nile jus­tice system.”

The Casey Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Reform Grantees

The Foun­da­tion fund­ed the fol­low­ing projects:

  • Col­lab­o­ra­tive Exchange: Envi­sion­ing a New High­er Edu­ca­tion­al Path­way Designed for and by Jus­tice-Impact­ed Youth — Cen­ter for Jus­tice-Impact­ed Stu­dents, Mid­dle­sex Col­lege, Edi­son, New Jer­sey. Access to high­er edu­ca­tion has proven ben­e­fits for youth in cus­tody and the com­mu­ni­ties to which they even­tu­al­ly return. To ensure that high­er edu­ca­tion remains a pri­or­i­ty for young peo­ple with jus­tice sys­tem involve­ment, the Mid­dle­sex Col­lege Col­lab­o­ra­tive Exchange pro­vides inten­sive sup­port to two groups of young peo­ple — for­mer­ly incar­cer­at­ed and cur­rent­ly in cus­tody — who are attend­ing col­lege. They learn to advo­cate for them­selves and sim­i­lar­ly sit­u­at­ed young peo­ple by research­ing resources for — and bar­ri­ers to — high­er edu­ca­tion for peo­ple with records. The Casey grant will be used to com­pen­sate par­tic­i­pants for their time, labor and exper­tise, as well as fund­ing hon­o­raria for guest speak­ers and enrich­ment pro­gram­ming iden­ti­fied and designed by the youth lead­ers. The project will cul­mi­nate in a meet­ing with the New Jer­sey Juve­nile Jus­tice Com­mis­sion and state-lev­el rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where the young lead­ers will present their find­ings and offer con­crete sug­ges­tions to sup­port the reen­try needs and aca­d­e­m­ic inter­ests of stu­dents with jus­tice sys­tem involvement.

  • The Youth Lead­er­ship Board’s Set the Record Straight Peer Out­reach Cam­paign — The Legal Aid Soci­ety, New York, New York. This project is led by the society’s Youth Lead­er­ship Board (YLB) — a diverse group of cur­rent and for­mer clients aged 1624 who have been involved with the juve­nile jus­tice and child wel­fare sys­tems. It will use peer out­reach so young peo­ple under­stand their rights, the con­se­quences of a crim­i­nal or juve­nile record and how to mit­i­gate a record’s impact on their lives. The project tar­gets young peo­ple at risk of involve­ment and those who have already had con­tact with the jus­tice sys­tem. It pro­motes Legal Aid’s ser­vices to resolve errors in juve­nile arrest his­to­ries and ensure that arrest records for juve­nile delin­quen­cy are treat­ed con­fi­den­tial­ly. More­over, it pre­vents young peo­ple with juve­nile arrest records from expe­ri­enc­ing unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion by employ­ers, schools and law enforce­ment agen­cies. Mem­bers of YLB, who will be paid for their work, will gain pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al skills as they devel­op and exe­cute the youth out­reach cam­paign. The soci­ety expects the cam­paign will include PSA-style videos, writ­ten mate­ri­als and in-per­son events.

  • Restora­tive Path­ways to Youth Futures — The Final 5 Cam­paign, Illi­nois. A move­ment to close the state’s five youth pris­ons and increase com­mu­ni­ty-based invest­ments in pos­i­tive oppor­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple, the Final 5 Cam­paign draws atten­tion to the expe­ri­ences of youth who have been incar­cer­at­ed to gen­er­ate pub­lic sup­port for its mis­sion. Restora­tive Path­ways to Youth Futures will engage both youths who are cur­rent­ly in cus­tody and those who were for­mer­ly incar­cer­at­ed in devel­op­ing ini­tia­tives that offer resources, peer sup­port and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple across the state who have been incar­cer­at­ed. The par­tic­i­pat­ing young peo­ple will simul­ta­ne­ous­ly push for changes in prac­tice and pol­i­cy while sup­port­ing direct­ly affect­ed indi­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties. They will deter­mine project activ­i­ties, which might include com­mu­ni­ty events to engage and sup­port youth and fam­i­lies, train­ings or work­shops and paid intern­ships and fel­low­ships. The young peo­ple will use their expe­ri­ences to devel­op rec­om­men­da­tions for endur­ing solutions. 

Pro­pos­al Design Informed by Youth Coun­cil Members

Der­rell Fra­zier, Iliana Pujols and Ine­sha Brig­gs — alum­ni of Casey’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Youth Advi­so­ry Coun­cil — played a lead­ing role in the ini­tial request for pro­pos­als and the selec­tion of these three projects. Young peo­ple who have expe­ri­ence with the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem have a unique and valu­able per­spec­tive to con­tribute to reform efforts,” says Fra­zier. Cen­ter­ing authen­tic youth voice and lead­er­ship in these efforts is essen­tial to pro­vid­ing young peo­ple with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to shape their lives and com­mu­ni­ties.” A fel­low alum­nus of Casey’s youth advi­so­ry coun­cil — Ja’Vaune Jay” Jack­son — is one of the lead­ers of the Final 5 Campaign.

Restora­tive Response Bal­ti­more (RRB), a con­flict res­o­lu­tion and com­mu­ni­ty-build­ing orga­ni­za­tion that is a Casey Foun­da­tion grantee, helped to man­age the RFP and selec­tion process. RRB was the youth advi­so­ry council’s back­bone orga­ni­za­tion and con­tin­ues to work with Casey and coun­cil alum­ni on projects fos­ter­ing authen­tic youth engagement.

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