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
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:
- Conditions Creating Concentrated Disadvantage
- Civil Rights and Movement Building
- Structural Racism and Inequities
- Public Policy
- Transformative Leadership
- Media Literacy and Research Methods
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.