The Official Blog of the Youth Transition Funders Group

Hosted by Chris Sturgis, Strategic Advisor to YTFG

Monday, December 22, 2014

Why the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act Matters to Cities

Laura Furr
This post originally appeared at Cities Speak on December 15, 2014. Author Laura E. Furr is the Senior Associate for Juvenile Justice Reform in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.

Last week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2014. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) provides state and local government agencies with federal standards and supports for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

Of high interest to cities are three key changes to the way state and local governments address and treat young people. The proposed bill would:
  • Remove a loop-hole that allows juvenile courts to detain youth for non-criminal acts;
  • Give local and state governments more guidance on understanding and reducing racial and ethnic disparities; and
  • Require several evidence-based steps to reduce the harm the juvenile justice system does to many young people.
NLC’s new municipal action guide, Increasing Public Safety and Improving Outcomes for Youth through Juvenile Justice Reform, documents steps cities can take ahead of these proposed changes to the law.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is it Really Strategic Philanthropy If the Grants are One-Year?

There are several different types of philanthropy out there – strategic philanthropy, charitable giving, social entrepreneurism, venture philanthropy, philanthropic investment, catalytic philanthropy – and I’m sure there's someone somewhere inventing a new kind right now.  I think it is incredibly helpful to think long and hard about the different approaches, as they provide some shape to what can feel like an infinite number of choices and decisions.

Most of the foundations I have worked with, partnered with, and worked for have all been operating within the realm of strategic philanthropy, although their foundations might have branded themselves in different ways. The process is relatively the same across the spectrum, with program teams identifying either issues or solutions, developing a strategy (which is then chopped into a smaller strategy by focusing on a select geography or type of activity such as advocacy or communications), setting outputs or outcomes, and then making investments (and some would say buying the services) in nonprofits to implement the strategy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

OP-ED: UN Calls Out US on Police Violence, Criminalization of Youth of Color

Tawakalitu Amusa
This post originally appeared December 10, 2014 on Campaign for Youth Justice. Author Tawakalitu Amusa is a third-year law student in the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at the City University of New York Law School.

The death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Mo., has brought national attention to the serious and sometimes deadly interactions that youth of color often have with the police.

However, racial discrimination against youth isn’t limited to encounters with the police. These policing practices often result in youth being funneled into the criminal justice system. In the United States approximately 200,000 youth under 18 are tried as adults each year, and on any given day more than 6,000 youth are detained in adult jails and prisons. Due to the racial disparities at every stage in the process — from decisions about whom to stop through whom to prosecute as adults — the majority of the youth in the adult system are minorities.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bipartisan Consensus on JJDPA!


This post was originally published yesterday, December 11 by Campaign for Youth Justice.
Senator Whitehouse


Today juvenile justice advocates across the country applaud Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) for the introduction of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2014, to reauthorize and strengthen the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA).
Senator Grassley

Signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974, and most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies a partnership between the federal government and the U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice system, to effectively address high-risk and delinquent behavior and to improve community safety.

More than seven years overdue for reauthorization, the JJDPA is the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system and provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements. The JJDPA also supports programs and practices that have significantly contributed to the reduction of delinquency.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Is This Working?

From the Dignity in Schools Campaign NY
Did you hear the American Life piece Is This Working? It’s an incredibly powerful look at how schools respond to misbehavior—when little kids act out, and the the small stuff such as talking, getting into tussles with their friends, defiance, etc.

It opens with all the different so-called techniques teachers use when students are “defiant,” including throwing clogs. It points out that some schools of education don’t even train teachers about how to respond when students indicate through their behavior that something isn’t working. It dives into the story of J.J., a little boy repeatedly getting suspended from elementary school. They raise the issue that when kids are repeatedly suspended, they learn they are bad, teachers become the enemy, and anger builds up as a natural protective factor.

It then turns to the fact that J.J. is black in a mostly white school – and lo and behold, he is getting suspended but his white peers are not. It provides some of the the stats about disproportionate suspensions and expulsions...and touches for just a second on the school-to-prison pipeline.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Deeper Dive into the EPIC North Design (Part 2)

Mr. Dash's Science Class
This is the second part of a look at EPIC Schools. Click here to read Part 1.

The EPIC North school design is best explained by the students themselves.

Teachers give us guidelines for our projects. We can learn in different ways, including learning from outside of school. We have to figure things ourselves and we have to learn how to do it ourselves. But we are never all by ourselves. Teachers are always there to help us.

Like most mastery-based schools, EPIC is founded on the idea of student ownership, transparency of learning expectations, and demonstrating proficiency before advancing to the next stage of learning. In this case, EPIC embeds the mastery-based structure within a tightly woven culture and programming based on youth development and future focus through CORE and Summer Bridge.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

EPIC Schools: Putting Young Men of Color in the Center of the Design (Part 1)

Harvey Chism
This is the first part of a series on EPIC Schools in New York City. Given the protests across the country about our country's treatment of African-American men, the EPIC school model is critically important to consider in reshaping our public systems. Black lives do matter, and we need to make sure our young men of color are in the core of all of our school designs.

I’ve visited a lot of schools. I’ve seen confident students before. But the students at EPIC North took me totally by surprise.

Even though they were only in their second month of school, twenty ninth-graders streamed into the library, surrounding me, shaking my hand, introducing themselves, and… networking?

The questions flew at me from all sides. Where are you from? Why are you interested in EPIC North? What company do you work for? Have you met any of the staff at EPIC before? You do, how did you meet Harvey? Then two students sat down next to me with the clear intent of continuing the conversation: Now that we’ve met, what can I tell you about EPIC North?

I wasn’t interviewing students – they were interviewing me! When ninth graders know that they have powerful voices and aren’t afraid to use them, it’s clear that something special is happening.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OP-ED: Evidence-Based Practices aren’t the Only Tool in the Shed

Amanda Petteruti
Originally posted November 4, 2014 on Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Author Amanda Petteruti is Senior Research Associate at the Justice Policy Institute and former Program Analyst for the District of Columbia’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

Over the last 15 years, juvenile justice advocates fought hard to convince policymakers and government officials that the best way to help youth succeed and improve public safety is to keep them out of secure confinement. To keep youth out of confinement, we argued, we should place youth in the community and enroll them in evidence-based practices (EBPs) close to home.

Robust evaluations of these programs, like Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT), showed that they are more cost-effective than locking up young people. Blue Prints for Healthy Youth Development and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy made the evaluations of these programs easy to understand and compare to incarceration.