Get Involved: Advocates for Change in Juvenile Justice

Updated March 29, 2023 | Posted March 7, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Smiling young people in a line

Who are some of the nation­al non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions at the fore­front of youth jus­tice reform? How can some­one sup­port efforts to ensure that young peo­ple exposed to the legal sys­tem are able to real­ize their potential?

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion sup­ports orga­ni­za­tions that are explor­ing alter­na­tive visions for how our coun­try responds to youth mis­be­hav­ior. The fol­low­ing are advo­cates for replac­ing a cul­ture of sur­veil­lance, pun­ish­ment and con­fine­ment with more effec­tive respons­es when young peo­ple vio­late the law, even in seri­ous and vio­lent ways. These respons­es would keep more young peo­ple away from the for­mal juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem and sup­port those youth who do enter the sys­tem with oppor­tu­ni­ties and con­nec­tions relat­ed to their per­son­al growth, pos­i­tive behav­ior change and long-term success.

The orga­ni­za­tions on this list work nation­al­ly or in mul­ti­ple juris­dic­tions and are part of a move­ment to make youth jus­tice bet­ter and more equi­table, espe­cial­ly for the Black, Lati­no and Indige­nous young peo­ple who are con­sis­tent­ly over­rep­re­sent­ed in the nation’s court­rooms and juve­nile facil­i­ties. Sev­er­al began as local­ly focused non­prof­its and have grown to help peo­ple out­side their jurisdictions.

Inno­va­tion hap­pens in com­mu­ni­ties and spreads when once-local orga­ni­za­tions bring new mod­els and ways of think­ing to oth­er places,” says Nate Balis, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group.

Orga­ni­za­tions Advanc­ing Juve­nile Jus­tice Reform

If you would like to join the move­ment, con­sid­er con­nect­ing with the fol­low­ing orga­ni­za­tions, which are cur­rent or for­mer grantees of the Casey Foun­da­tion. There are many oth­er wor­thy orga­ni­za­tions not includ­ed here. Non­prof­its may not be on the list because they work in a sin­gle juris­dic­tion, focus on much more than juve­nile jus­tice, are pro­fes­sion­al mem­ber­ship orga­ni­za­tions or are not fund­ed by the Foun­da­tion. For instance, Cen­tinela Youth Ser­vices, La Plazi­ta Insti­tute and Restora­tive Response Bal­ti­more are Foun­da­tion grantees who work local­ly yet think broad­ly and share their exper­tise with peo­ple nationwide.

The Anti-Recidi­vism Coalition
ARC leads a net­work of peo­ple with direct sys­tem expe­ri­ence and oth­ers who advo­cate for a fair­er jus­tice system.

Cam­paign for the Fair Sen­tenc­ing of Youth
CFSY is a nation­al coali­tion and clear­ing­house focused on fair and age-appro­pri­ate sen­tences for youth, with a focus on abol­ish­ing life with­out parole sen­tences for youth.

Cen­ter for Children’s Law and Policy
CCLP is a pub­lic inter­est law and pol­i­cy orga­ni­za­tion focused on the reform of the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem and the pro­tec­tion of the rights of children.

Cen­ter for Juve­nile Jus­tice Reform at George­town University
CJJR sup­ports the devel­op­ment of lead­ers in juve­nile jus­tice and relat­ed sys­tems of care through its cer­tifi­cate pro­grams, research and training.

Cen­ter for Pub­lic Justice
CPJ approach­es reform from a faith-based perspective.

Coali­tion for Juve­nile Justice
CJJ is a nation­wide coali­tion ded­i­cat­ed to pre­vent­ing youth from becom­ing involved in the courts and uphold­ing the high­est stan­dards of care when youth enter the jus­tice system.

Colum­bia Jus­tice Lab
Colum­bia Jus­tice Lab gen­er­ates ideas for a com­mu­ni­ty-cen­tered future for justice.

Com­mu­ni­ty Con­nec­tions for Youth
CCFY devel­ops the capac­i­ty of com­mu­ni­ties to respond to youth mis­be­hav­ior with effec­tive com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven alter­na­tives to incarceration.

Coun­cil of State Gov­ern­ments Jus­tice Center
CSG Jus­tice Cen­ter devel­ops research-dri­ven strate­gies to increase pub­lic safe­ty and strength­en communities.

Cred­i­ble Mes­sen­ger Men­tor­ing Movement
CM3 sup­ports and advances cred­i­ble mes­sen­ger ini­tia­tives in com­mu­ni­ties across the country.

Evi­dent Change
Evi­dent Change uses data and research to improve out­comes in the juve­nile jus­tice, crim­i­nal jus­tice and child wel­fare systems.

The Gault Center
The Gault Cen­ter builds the capac­i­ty of the juve­nile defense bar and improves access to coun­sel and qual­i­ty of rep­re­sen­ta­tion for chil­dren in the jus­tice system.

Human Rights for Kids
HRFK seeks long-term, sys­temic change to pro­tect the human rights of all chil­dren who come into con­flict with the law through research and edu­ca­tion, coali­tion build­ing, pol­i­cy advo­ca­cy and strate­gic litigation.

Impact Jus­tice
Impact Jus­tice advances new approach­es and solu­tions that move toward a more humane and restora­tive jus­tice system.

Inside Cir­cle
Inside Cir­cle empow­ers peo­ple affect­ed by the jus­tice sys­tem to heal, find pur­pose and build mean­ing­ful lives of service.

Jus­tice for Families
J4F works toward giv­ing fam­i­lies a voice and pow­er in juve­nile jus­tice deci­sion-mak­ing and advo­cates for direct invest­ments in youth, fam­i­lies and communities.

Jus­tice Pol­i­cy Institute
JPI con­ducts research and analy­ses that iden­ti­fy effec­tive pro­grams and poli­cies. It pro­vides train­ing and tech­ni­cal assis­tance to peo­ple work­ing for jus­tice reform.

Juve­nile Law Center
JLC is a non­prof­it, pub­lic-inter­est law firm that uses legal strate­gies and leg­isla­tive advo­ca­cy for the ben­e­fit of youth in the juve­nile jus­tice system.

MIL­PA cre­ates oppor­tu­ni­ties for cul­tur­al heal­ing, inter­gen­er­a­tional lead­er­ship and com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven deci­sion-mak­ing to address the root caus­es of mass incarceration.

Nation­al Cen­ter for Juve­nile Justice
NCJJ pro­vides research on juve­nile and fam­i­ly jus­tice sys­tems for use in improv­ing those systems.

Nation­al Cen­ter for Youth Law
NCYL advo­cates for com­mu­ni­ty-based ser­vices as alter­na­tives to incar­cer­a­tion and works to elim­i­nate racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties with­in the juve­nile jus­tice system.

Nation­al Insti­tute for Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Reform
NICJR works to reduce incar­cer­a­tion and vio­lence, improve the well-being of youth and adults involved in the jus­tice sys­tem and devel­op the next gen­er­a­tion of social jus­tice leaders.

Nation­al Juve­nile Jus­tice Network
NJJN sup­ports and enhances the work of state-based groups to pro­mote juve­nile jus­tice reforms. To find a group in your state, vis­it www​.njjn​.org/​o​u​r​-​m​e​mbers.

R Street Institute
R Street pro­duces non­par­ti­san research and com­men­tary on pub­lic pol­i­cy relat­ed to the jus­tice sys­tem, pri­or­i­tiz­ing lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment and fis­cal responsibility.

Rep­re­sent Justice
Rep­re­sent Jus­tice uses the pow­er of sto­ry­telling and media to engage audi­ences in reimag­in­ing the jus­tice sys­tem and cre­at­ing demand for change.

Roca engages the young adults, police and sys­tems at the cen­ter of urban vio­lence in rela­tion­ships to address trau­ma, find hope and dri­ve change.

The Sen­tenc­ing Project
The Sen­tenc­ing Project pro­motes effec­tive and humane respons­es to crime that min­i­mize impris­on­ment and crim­i­nal­iza­tion of youth and adults.

Strate­gies for Youth
SFY improves inter­ac­tions between police and youth and also seeks to reduce unnec­es­sary arrests of youth for minor offens­es and dis­pro­por­tion­ate police con­tact with youth of color.

Vera Insti­tute of Justice
Vera pur­sues safe, healthy and empow­ered com­mu­ni­ties and a fair, account­able jus­tice system.

W. Hay­wood Burns Institute
BI sup­ports com­mu­ni­ties in estab­lish­ing self-direct­ed solu­tions that reimag­ine justice.

Youth Advo­cate Pro­grams, Inc.
YAP pro­motes a cul­tur­al­ly respon­sive con­tin­u­um of care that sup­ports youth and fam­i­lies of col­or and reduces reliance on incar­cer­a­tion and oth­er out-of-home placements.

Youth First Jus­tice Collaborative
Youth First sup­ports youth-led cam­paigns to abol­ish youth pris­ons in 15 states to date in favor of invest­ments in com­mu­ni­ty pro­grams that can put youth on track to success.

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