Happening Now

Sons and Brothers

Change Gon' Come: A video about hope
Mar 03, 2015 |

Change Gon' Come: A video about hope

The youth media projects The Endowment funds across the state provide an opportunity for California's underserved youth to express themselves through poetry, photography, journalism, and video. These are our next generation of leaders and it behooves us...
From Fresno to Greenlining
Mar 02, 2015 |

From Fresno to Greenlining

Earlier this month, Juan Reynoso wrote about the Health Equity Fellows and the journey we’ve embarked on together. To help this all make a little more sense, we’re each going to tell you a bit about ourselves and what landed us here. My story begins in...
[New York Times] Keep Out of Jail Those Who Don’t Need to Be Locked Up
Feb 26, 2015 |

[New York Times] Keep Out of Jail Those Who Don’t Need to Be Locked Up

Jail is where over-incarceration begins. Millions of people in jail today simply don’t need to be there, and the devastating costs and consequences fall disproportionately on low-income people and communities of color. This country’s reliance on jails has grown sharply; jail populations have more than tripled since the 1980s. There are now nearly 12 million admissions to local jails annually — almost 20 times the number of admissions to state and federal prisons.
[Los Angeles Times] Prop. 47 report finds fewer drug arrests, less crowding in jails
Feb 26, 2015 |

[Los Angeles Times] Prop. 47 report finds fewer drug arrests, less crowding in jails

Less than four months after California voters approved Proposition 47, the landmark law is already having significant effects on Los Angeles County's criminal justice system. A new report by the county chief executive office attempts to measure the effects of the law, which downgrades some drug and theft felonies to misdemeanors, though officials said it's still far too early to draw final conclusions.
[The White House Blog] Giving Every Young Person a Path to Reach Their Potential
Feb 26, 2015 |

[The White House Blog] Giving Every Young Person a Path to Reach Their Potential

Our nation’s most basic duty is to ensure that every child has the chance to fulfill his or her potential. This isn’t the responsibility of one individual or one neighborhood: it’s up to all of us to pave these paths of opportunity so that young people — regardless of where they grow up — can get ahead in life and achieve their dreams. That’s why My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) is such an important initiative. Launched by President Obama last year, MBK brings communities together to ensure that all youth — including boys and young men of color — can overcome barriers to success and improve their lives. I got to see this work up close during a recent trip to Oakland, California. I joined Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Council President Lynette McElhaney, and other stakeholders for a conversation about efforts that are making a difference in the lives of local youth.
[EdSource] Report reveals national ‘discipline gap’
Feb 26, 2015 |

[EdSource] Report reveals national ‘discipline gap’

A study of national suspension rates shows a “discipline gap,” with African-American and disabled students having the highest rates and Asian and white students the lowest. Altogether, 3.5 million public school students were suspended from school at least once in 2011-12. “Given that the average suspension is conservatively put at 3.5 days, we estimate that U.S. public school children lost nearly 18 million days of instruction in just one school year because of exclusionary discipline,” according to the study, Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?, by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA. Out-of-school suspensions, the authors say, exacerbate the achievement gap. They point to a 2014 study by Attendance Works that found that missing three days of school in the month before taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress test translated into 4th-graders scoring a full grade level lower in reading on the test. The UCLA study found a suspension rate for middle and high school students of 23.2 percent for African-American students and 18.1 percent for students with physical and mental disabilities. That compares with 6.7 percent for white students and 2.5 percent for Asian students. Latino students had a suspension rate of 10.8 percent.
Attorney General Launches New Bureau of Children's Justice
Feb 26, 2015 |

Attorney General Launches New Bureau of Children's Justice

"We simply cannot let down our most vulnerable children today, then lock them up tomorrow and act surprised." With that statement, Attorney General Kamala Harris has launched the California Department of Justice's new Bureau of Children's Justice to...
[Christian Science Monitor] Schools' reliance on suspension, expulsion isn't necessary, report finds
Feb 24, 2015 |

[Christian Science Monitor] Schools' reliance on suspension, expulsion isn't necessary, report finds

What do Richmond County, Ga.; Visalia, Calif.; and Worcester, Mass., have in common? All three are among the school districts showing the biggest rates of improvement regarding their school discipline practices. A new report analyzing federal data on out-of-school suspensions found evidence of huge “discipline gaps” when it comes to suspension rates for minorities and students with disabilities. And it highlighted some districts with extremely high suspension rates – a factor that has been linked to lower achievement and lower graduation rates.
[The Know Youth Media] Fresnans Meet to Discuss Gang Prevention
Feb 24, 2015 |

[The Know Youth Media] Fresnans Meet to Discuss Gang Prevention

FRESNO, Calif — Ruben Hernandez is an active gang member in Fresno but is fed up with what he sees everyday in his community. “I’ve noticed that a lot of the children, ages 12 to 18 have started to rebel against the police,” Hernandez said. Hernandez, 30, has spent 15 years incarcerated and another 4 years in parole. Hernandez wants his children to learn from his mistakes so that they won’t make the same ones. Hernandez joined other ex-gang members and concerned community members at People’s Church on February 19 to discuss issues of gang violence and gang prevention. The town hall was organized by KMPH FOx 26 after the murder of Janessa Ramirez, 9, when she was caught in crossfire between two rival gang members. The town hall was moderated by KMPH’s Monty Torres, and the panel included Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Sheriff Margaret Mims, Pastor B.T. Lewis of Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church and Ernie Rodriguez, an outreach worker. Much of the discussion centered around preventing youth from joining gangs.
[Richmond Pulse] Public Defenders and Community Come Together in Working Group on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System
Feb 24, 2015 |

[Richmond Pulse] Public Defenders and Community Come Together in Working Group on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

With community-law enforcement relations still making headlines around the country, a group of attorneys from the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s office are organizing to see changes made on the judicial level here in Richmond. Together with community members and organizers, the group aims to address the racial bias they believe exists in Contra Costa County’s criminal justice system. The group first met in late January in response to District Attorney Mark A. Peterson’s public rebuke of Public Defender Robin Lipetzky for her remarks at a Black Lives Matter demonstration, where she noted instances of racial disparities witnessed every day in her work place. “We here in the Public Defender’s office walk through these halls of justice day in and day out and we see the immediate effects of the disparate treatment on our clients,” Lipetzky said at the Dec. 18 rally.
Feb 24, 2015 |

[Chronicle of Social Change] Positive Youth Justice, Part Two: Community Works, Oakland, Calif.

Last week, our series began with a look at a program that employed a positive youth development framework to steer kids away from behavior that might land them in the juvenile justice system. This, we posited, would be the first step in full “Positive Youth Justice System.” The second logical step in such a system would be a program or set of programs used to divert juveniles from formal involvement in the system after an arrest. That is the task at hand in the Oakland, Calif., where a nonprofit called Community Works leads a “community conferencing” model to mediate between juvenile offenders and the victims of their delinquency. After three years, the numbers suggest that youths who complete the program recidivate at a significantly lower rate than similar juveniles in the system. The strategy hinges on youth accepting responsibility for the crime, and recognizing the impact of their actions on a victim, their family and the community.
[Chronicle of Social Change] Positive Youth Justice, Part One: Rosie’s Place, Olympia, Wash.
Feb 24, 2015 |

[Chronicle of Social Change] Positive Youth Justice, Part One: Rosie’s Place, Olympia, Wash.

The first step in a continuum of positive youth justice should aim to engage young people before they are ever arrested. Every weekday, in Olympia, Washington’s capital, the staff and volunteers at Rosie’s Place attempt to do just that. The Olympia-based drop-in center has aligned its hours and its available services to reach youth who are at high risk of involvement with the justice system: older youth who are homeless and/or have run away, struggle with drugs, or have left the school system. “We try to come at the youth with high expectations of who they are as human beings, even though it can be exhausting,” said the center’s director, Keylee Marineau.
[Zocalo] When a Felony Is No Longer a Felony
Feb 24, 2015 |

[Zocalo] When a Felony Is No Longer a Felony

After decades of building prisons and increasing the number of people behind bars, the pendulum of California’s criminal justice system has swung away from incarceration. Among the policies and laws that are changing the way offenders are sentenced is Proposition 47, which was passed in November 2014, and redefines six nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors. About 1 million Californians are being affected by this legislation—getting felonies cleared from their records, being resentenced, and in some cases getting out of prison earlier than expected. At an event co-presented by the California Endowment, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Stephen V. Manley, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership Executive Director Peggy Edwards, and Project Rebound Director Jason Bell told a full-house crowd at the Endowment’s downtown L.A. headquarters how Proposition 47 is changing the state’s approach to criminal justice and, more broadly, the challenges faced by prisoners upon reentry to society. Edwards said that the first months of Proposition 47 have raised a number of questions that are slowly being answered. But the law is being received with a great deal of excitement among people with felony convictions, many of whom “are chomping at the bit” to be resentenced. Getting a felony conviction off your record clears ex-offenders to receive public housing and employment support.
[Atlanta Blackstar] Oakland Schools Are Taking a Simple but Effective Approach to Helping Black Male Students Excel
Feb 23, 2015 |

[Atlanta Blackstar] Oakland Schools Are Taking a Simple but Effective Approach to Helping Black Male Students Excel

Stop assuming Black boys are the problem. That’s the first step every school must take if the administrators are truly interested in helping their Black male students achieve academic success in the classroom, according to Vajra Watson, director of research and policy for equity at the University of California, Davis. It’s the crucial step that some schools in Oakland, California, have already made, and they are now reaping the rewards. Back in 2010, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) launched an initiative called the Manhood Development Program (MDP). The program offered a special set of elective courses that targeted Black male students.
[In These Times] Meet the Radical Brownies
Feb 23, 2015 |

[In These Times] Meet the Radical Brownies

When Anayvette Martinez’s daughter, a fourth grader, wanted “desperately” to join a girls’ troop like the Girl Scouts of America, it gave Martinez an idea. “I saw the need for a group that would empower and encourage her to form bonds of sisterhood with other girls in her community,” wrote Martinez on Facebook. “I began to imagine what a radical young girl’s social justice troop looked like; a group that centered and affirmed her experiences as a beautiful and brilliant brown girl against so many societal pressures to conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood.” Martinez enlisted the help of a friend, Marilyn Hollinquest, and the result was the Radical Brownies: an Oakland, California-based, social-justice-focused girls’ troop. Its mission: to “empower young girls of color so that they step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place.” The group takes its name from the junior division of the Girl Scouts, but is unaffiliated. Instead of camping or selling cookies, these Brownies participate in protests and marches, carrying #BlackLivesMatter banners and wearing small brown berets to pay homage to the Brown Berets and the Black Panthers. The founding chapter has 12 members, all girls of color, ages 8 to 11. At the first meeting, in late 2014, the girls discussed what the word “radical” meant to them. They decided it was “[being a] fierce community advocate,” Hollinquest told PBS.
[Los Angeles Times] Editorial: With Prop. 47, cities and counties have savings to count, decisions to make
Feb 23, 2015 |

[Los Angeles Times] Editorial: With Prop. 47, cities and counties have savings to count, decisions to make

Just over 100 days have passed since California voters adopted Proposition 47, which reduced six specific felonies to misdemeanors; and it will be nine more months before the state quantifies and distributes the first year's worth of savings it will accumulate by no longer imprisoning so many felons. So, of course, it's far too early to assess what the initiative has accomplished and what problems, if any, have emerged.
[Imperial Valley News] Diverse Legislators, National and State Advocates for Children Applaud Launch of Bureau of Children’s Justice
Feb 23, 2015 |

[Imperial Valley News] Diverse Legislators, National and State Advocates for Children Applaud Launch of Bureau of Children’s Justice

Los Angeles, California - Last Thursday, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the formation of the Bureau of Children’s Justice within the California Department of Justice. The Bureau will increase support for vulnerable children, work with stakeholders to improve policies affecting children, and enforce California’s civil and criminal laws with respect to California’s foster care, adoption, and juvenile justice systems; discrimination and inequities in education; California’s elementary school truancy crisis; human trafficking of vulnerable youth; and childhood trauma and exposure to violence. Attorney General Kamala Harris was joined by leaders of state and national organizations at a press conference in Los Angeles unveiling the bureau and other leaders from across the state and country are applauding this important step. Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund: “The newly established Bureau of Children’s Justice will help ensure that many more California children, now at great risk of entering the state’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline, will benefit from new protection and supports they need to meet their full potential and succeed in school and in life.”
[USA Today] California's school suspensions show racial disparity
Feb 23, 2015 |

[USA Today] California's school suspensions show racial disparity

Teenager Dwayne Powe Jr. got a suspension in eighth grade. He didn't get into a fight. He wasn't caught with drugs. He committed no crime. "I actually was asking for a pencil," Powe said. Powe said his class began an exercise and he asked to borrow a pencil from another student. That's when his teacher told Powe he was being disruptive and made him leave class. Powe tried explaining he had only asked for a pencil, but that only dug his hole deeper, he said. He was technically suspended for "willful defiance". Nearly 200,000 California students who were suspended for willful defiance last year can relate to Powe's story. What constitutes willful defiance is somewhat vague, but it generally allows teachers to remove students from the classroom if their behavior is thought to be disruptive or defiant. It's the most common reason California students were suspended—and students of color are overwhelmingly targeted. But there is a growing consensus that keeping kids out of the classroom for non-violent behavioral issues has done more harm than good, and students of color are paying the heaviest cost for this policy.
[Washington Post] Turning a moment into a movement after the deaths of unarmed black men
Feb 23, 2015 |

[Washington Post] Turning a moment into a movement after the deaths of unarmed black men

In the months following the shooting death of Michael Brown, Tony Rice quit his job to lead nightly protests in Ferguson, Mo. But after a grand jury decided in November not to indict the officer who shot Brown, Rice said, “we just woke up one morning and no one was out there protesting.” That hasn’t deterred Rice. As the nation’s attention has turned elsewhere, he and fellow activists have switched up their tactics, slowing down and digging in, trying to nurture a nascent civil rights movement by shifting to local issues and a broader critique of American society. The deadly confrontations in Ferguson; in Cleveland, where police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy who was playing with a pellet gun; and in New York, where police choked and killed a man who was selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk, prompted young people to take to social media and the streets to express outrage and demand change.
[Orange County Register] Big Brothers Big Sisters gets $125,000 mentoring grant
Feb 23, 2015 |

[Orange County Register] Big Brothers Big Sisters gets $125,000 mentoring grant

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, a Tustin-based nonprofit organization that helps youth realize their potential and build productive futures through one-on-one mentoring, has been awarded a $125,000 grant from the California Endowment. The Orange County award is part of an overall $250,000 award made to the Orange County and Los Angeles County chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters. The grant is focused on supporting the organization’s mentoring programs for minority girls, specifically in the Santa Ana area. It will be used to help fund programs that match girls who experience elevated socioeconomic challenges with a “Big” in the organization’s traditional and High School Big programs.
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