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Youth Justice Fellowship

 

In response to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Atatiana Jefferson, the Social Justice Learning Institute created the Youth Justice Fellowship (YJF). The Youth Justice Fellowship is a year-long cohort of 10-12 Fellows nationwide, ages between 18-25, who research, train, and organize

As a learning community, the cohort functions as a think tank and action team reimagining community safety and the institutional systems that impact Black and Brown communities. 

How the Youth Justice Fellowship Works

Action Research

Fellows delve into systemic barriers impacting education, economics, youth development, community empowerment, health, environment, criminal justice, and policy. Each then selects an area of focus within these sectors to critique, looking specifically at root causes and the harmful effects of existing institutional models and practices.

Individually and as a learning community, they work to investigate, analyze, and develop bold policy recommendations that can be implemented by decision-makers to overturn systemic inequities.

Social Justice Youth Development

To further prepare Fellows, the SJLI team provides instruction on social justice and what it means throughout history. Fellows are given a list of books for critical reading on many social justice topics, including abolition theory. These critical readings help support their research and help them to understand how to integrate social justice principles into their everyday lives and communities.

Strategic Community Planning 

Fellows meet routinely with our SJLI Policy/Advocacy team to train in the academic and organizing skills needed to be transformative leaders.

Helping to guide success is a targeted curriculum that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Partners, allies, and collaborators act as an additional support base, providing Fellows with information for community research and activation projects.

To increase Fellows’ lenses on a global scale and to immerse them in community building beyond their neighborhoods, we take them on a solidarity tour so they can draw a comparative analysis between Los Angeles County and the country they are visiting. 

Healing Justice

In order for our Fellows to lead with an anti-deficit mindset, they must do the work of healing individual and collective trauma.

We understand that Fellows may face personal challenges as they grapple with the realities (both current and historic) of systemic racism and historic attempts made to disempower communities of color and other disenfranchised groups.  

YJF seeks to provide a “whole-person” immersive experience where Fellows have a safe space to work through trauma so that they may help others do the same.

In addition to discussions, cultural experiences, social bonding activities, restorative justice exercises and resiliency circles, Fellows have access to counselors via our partnership with Sunrise Therapy. 

To learn more about YJF and how you can participate, please contact SJLI Youth Justice Organizer Gabriel Regalado at gregalado@sjli.org.

Urban Scholars California

 

The Social Justice Learning Institute, one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations at the forefront of the social justice and equity movement since 2008, has been working for over a decade to improve the education, health, and well-being of youth and communities of color through research, training, and community mobilization.

The Urban Scholars program started as the Black Male Youth Academy in 2008 at Morningside High School in Inglewood, CA with 15 students and a vision to transform the lives of young men of color by empowering them through education.

Now, we have partnered with more than 20 schools within the Greater Los Angeles area to increase college and career preparation, academic competencies, and skills building among students of color.

Urban Scholars Uses 4 Key Areas to Empower Los Angeles County’s Young Men of Color

Using education as a tool, we empower young men of color to create thriving communities and more equitable systems by providing relevant curriculum and academic support.

By tapping into the following 4 key areas, they learn to build knowledge of self for personal transformation, develop social awareness of the world around them, and achieve academic success. 

1. Academic and Career Development

We provide individualized academic and career pathway development and take students on college and career field trips to support their journeys to and through post-secondary plans.

2. Socio-Emotional Support

We work with young men of color to address and overcome trauma through restorative practices, outdoor retreats, and individual therapy sessions with mental health professionals.

3. Identity Development

We strengthen students’ sense of self through mindfulness activities, team-building, and leadership development in the classroom and at retreats.

4. Social Justice Youth Leadership

We train young men of color in community-based action research, policy advocacy, and organizing so they can become leaders who transform their communities. 

Transforming the Lives of LA County Youth Through Urban Scholars

Emmanuel “Manny” Karunwi, a Class of 2022 Urban Scholar and Jordan Wings Scholarship winner, began our program as “a young Black man trying to get into high school and be the cool kid. You know, be popular,” said the University Pathways Medical Magnet Academy graduate. “But through SJLI I learned the wonders of education and the better man that I can become.”

By 2021, Emmanuel and other youth leaders across Los Angeles County led efforts that successfully pulled $36 million in funding from the LA School Police Department, removed police from LAUSD campuses, and secured over $96.7 million for student services like counselors, psychiatric social workers, restorative justice coordinators, academic counselors, student safety coaches.

With help from our Educational Equity team, he graduated in June of 2022 with a full gap scholarship through our partnership with the Jordan Wings Foundation and currently studies film at Howard University.

“SJLI has given me all of the resources that I need to be successful,” he said. “The Urban Scholars program has helped educate me and give me an outlet to change my community for the better.”

Urban Scholars Impact Numbers

Since 2008, we’ve been tracking our impact so we can make program improvements that lead to more significant gains in academic achievement. Here is a look at some of our numbers:

Where You Can Find Urban Scholars In Los Angeles County

Our California Urban Scholars program is an evidence-based, credit-bearing course that is embedded into the school schedules of Antelope Valley High School, Augustus Hawkins High School, Bret Harte Middle School, Centennial High School, Cesar Chavez Continuation-Centennial, Cesar Chavez Continuation – Compton, Charles Drew Middle School, Crenshaw High School, Dymally High School, Eastside High School, Franklin Middle School, Fremont High School, John Adams Middle School, Lindbergh Middle School, Millikan Middle School, Morningside High School, Nelson Middle School, Palmdale High School, Robert Fulton College Prep Academy, Ulysses S. Grant High School, University Pathways Medical Magnet Academy, and Washington Prep High.

Bring Urban Scholars to Your LA County Campus

If you operate a school committed to improving educational outcomes for young men of color, we want to work with you.

Urban Scholars programming is typically offered during the school day as an elective period, or as an extra-curricular offering. All participating school sites will receive a designated school site coordinator to work directly with your selected instructors.

Instructors Receive: 

Students Receive: 

BRING URBAN SCHOLARS TO YOUR SCHOOL

Join Our Los Angeles County Urban Scholars Community

As our roots continue to grow throughout Los Angeles County, we welcome you to get to know us better. Join our community of folks who are ready to learn, grow, and change the lives of young men of color together.

 

Los Angeles Youth Uprising

LA Youth Uprising is a coalition of community organizations that are devoted to ending youth incarceration.

We are a collaborating partner within the LA Youth Uprising Coalition, LAYUP, which has been critical in swaying the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors vote in favor of prison reform by organizing community members, strategizing with county officials, and providing public comment at LA County meetings.
Recent Victories:

– On August 13th, 2019, the County Board of Supervisors voted to remove youth out of Los Angeles County Probation Department supervision, the largest probation department in the country. There will be a Youth Justice Work Group created within the Office of Youth Diversion and Development to investigate an alternative system for meeting the needs of youth who come into contact with the law.

– Another huge win was achieved by the coalition on October 1st, 2019 when the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion to create a Probation Oversight Commission with power to hold the department accountable. LAYUP pushed for and secured four powers to hold the Department accountable: (1) subpoena powers, (2) community engagement, (3) policy and budget review, and (4) independent investigations and inspections. This commission will include two members of the community, one who has been system involved and another who has experienced a family member being system involved.

We are proud of the monumental changes thus far and will continue to disrupt oppressive cycles of incarcerating youth into violent systems.
Urban Scholars Houston

 

The Social Justice Learning Institute, one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations at the forefront of the social justice and equity movement since 2008, has been working for over a decade to improve the education, health, and well-being of youth and communities of color through research, training, and community mobilization.

Since the founding of our Houston Branch in 2018, the Houston team has partnered with five schools within the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to increase college and career preparation, academic competencies, and skills-building among students of color through our flagship Urban Scholars program.

Urban Scholars: Empowering Houston’s Young Men and Women of Color

Using education as a tool, we empower youth of color to create thriving communities and more equitable systems by providing relevant curriculum and academic support.

By tapping into the following 4 key areas, they learn to build knowledge of self for personal transformation, develop social awareness of the world around them, and achieve academic success. 

1. Academic and Career Development

We provide individualized academic and career pathway development and take students on college and career field trips to support their journeys to and through post-secondary plans.

2. Socio-Emotional Support

We work with students to address and overcome trauma through restorative practices, outdoor retreats, and individual therapy sessions with mental health professionals.

3. Self-Esteem Development

We strengthen students’ sense of self through mindfulness activities, team-building, and leadership development in the classroom and at retreats.

4. Youth Leadership

We train students in community-based action research, policy advocacy, and organizing so they can become leaders who transform their communities. 


Meet Toderick Hollis, one of our 2021 graduates from Phillis Wheatley High School.

The brilliant student will attend Lamar University this Fall, where he plans to study business and explore how to apply both his studies and passion for social justice to improving the lives of those around him.

To mark his journey, Toderick was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from My Brother’s Keeper and like our other graduates, received a few gifts from the SJLI family, including a stole, a medal, a program certificate, and a fresh pair of Jordans thanks to our partnership with the Jordan Wings Foundation.

Urban Scholars Impact Numbers

Since laying the groundwork in Houston three years ago, we’ve been tracking our impact so we can make program improvements that lead to greater gains in academic achievement. Here is a look at some of our numbers:

 

     

     

Where You Can Find Urban Scholars in Houston

Our Houston Urban Scholars program is an evidence-based, credit-bearing course that is embedded into the school schedules of Phillis Wheatley High School, Attucks Middle School, Clifton Middle School, Sam Houston Math,Science, and Technology Center, and Worthing Early College High School.

Bring Urban Scholars to Your Houston Campus

If you operate a school committed to improving educational outcomes for young men and women of color, we want to work with you.

Urban Scholars programming is typically offered during the school day as an elective period, or as an extra-curricular offering. All participating school sites will receive a designated school site coordinator to work directly with your selected instructors.

Instructors Receive: 

Students Receive: 

Join Our Houston Urban Scholars Community

As our roots continue to grow in Houston, we welcome you to get to know us better. Join our community of folks who are ready to learn, grow, and change the lives of young men and women of color together.

 

Healthy & Sustainable Inglewood Collaborative

We convene a group of local community advocates to identify solutions for environmental and health disparities in Inglewood.

The Healthy & Sustainable Inglewood Collaborative (HSIC) is a collection of stakeholders representing various health agencies, businesses, community groups, faith-based organizations, public agencies and community members that was established to advocate for healthy eating, active living and climate change resilience.

Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition

We build youth leaders and support them in efforts to address issues impacting their communities.

We are a collaborating partner within the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Brothers, Sons, Selves (BSS) Coalition that works to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color by advocating for positive alternatives to suspension and reducing criminalization of communities of color. Participating youth are supported with leadership and advocacy trainings on topics including public speaking, socio-political education, issue education and community organizing.

Several of our youth participated in advocating for the passage of SB 419 in Sacramento to end willful defiance suspensions. Willful defiance suspensions disproportionately affected students of color and the new law represents a victory in disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline by keeping students in school.

Students advocated against SB 419 in front of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

 

Uplift Inglewood Coalition

 

We anchor a growing coalition of over 15,000 residents, businesses, community and faith-based organizations working to advance housing justice in Inglewood.

SJLI serves as the anchor organization for the Uplift Inglewood Coalition, a collection of youth, residents, renters, homeowners and community-based organizations in Inglewood who are directly impacted by the effects of gentrification and displacement in the City. As the anchor organization, SJLI has led and facilitated multiple social media campaigns, door-knocking campaigns, and phone banking campaigns to provide Inglewood residents information about housing rights, Uplift Inglewood events, reaching more than 8,000 residents.

JOIN THE UPLIFT INGLEWOOD COALITION
100 Seeds of Change

We teach residents to grow their own food and we work with them to maintain our growing network of over 100 home, school and community gardens.

The 100 Seeds of Change initiative establishes a local level food system through the activation of home plots, schools, parks and vacant lots with gardens and nutrition classes. SJLI built and continues to maintain a network of over 100 school, community and home gardens in Inglewood and surrounding areas. Community members, including students, their families and local volunteers, help maintain and harvest the gardens, so that residents can be empowered to eat healthy, whole foods.

Food For Thought Produce Pickup

 

The Food for Thought Produce Pickup offers free, quality fruits and vegetables to families in Inglewood.

SJLI partners with Food Forward, which works with wholesale food markets to recover quality produce that is not selected by grocers and restaurants. Recognizing that affordable access remains an issue in Inglewood, SJLI partners with the local school district to host a monthly produce pickup for students’ families. Produce not selected by families is composted back into soil used in 100 Seeds of Change gardens.

Inglewood Certified Farmers’ Market

We introduced and continue to manage the first farmers’ market in the city of Inglewood.

SJLI operates a bi-weekly farmers’ market that offers affordable, healthy food to communities that are not regularly exposed to low-cost healthy food options. The farmers’ market increases healthy food access for local community members, and serves as another avenue to distribute the affordable produce that SJLI grows, produces and aggregates from our network of community and school gardens.