We are delighted to announce the first grants awarded by Life Comes From It.
In November 2018, the Life Comes From It advisory circle chose twenty-two projects around the country from among 180 applicants to receive grants up to $25,000, for a total of $347,000. It was humbling and inspiring to learn of so many projects that resonated with the fund’s values. The funds we had raised to distribute were inadequate to the task, since so much liberatory work is under way, and beyond what we could support. But a start has been made. Grants will be made on an annual basis. We hope to raise more money to distribute next year. We strongly encourage those who did not get funding this time to come back.
The 22 projects that received grants are listed under four headings: individual projects in either indigenous peacemaking, transformative justice, or restorative justice, and convenings of several projects.
Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative
Native American Rights Fund | Bret Shelton
The grant will assist the Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative’s mission of providing written resources, training, technical assistance, and advocacy to support U.S. Tribes' peacemaking efforts, as well as to support outreach into, and collaboration with, the broader Restorative Justice movement worldwide. This is an effort to support a movement in tribes that are trying to throw off or improve upon the tribal court systems that were imposed on them by the United States government as part of massive efforts to exterminate the tribes' own cultures. The grant will support work to develop peacemaking systems in Native communities—but only at their request and only by working with each community to develop a system of their own, based on their own culture, situation, and people—and to connect tribal peacemakers with each other and with the global restorative justice movement.
In the Absence of Justice
American Indian Prison Project | Stephanie Autumn
St Paul, MN
The project will hold Reentry Talking Circles, built on Dakota Kinship Teachings and the Anishanabe 7 Grandfather Teachings, for 20-30 Native men at the men's maximum prison at Oak Park Heights, 20-30 Native women at the women’s prison at MCF Shakopee, 15-25 Native women at the Federal Prison for women at Waseca, and 15-25 women returning from prison to the Twin Cities, all in Minnesota. The grant will also pay for travel and food expenses for one of the two Indigenous Restorative Practices trainers requested by Yup’ik community members/education staff in the village of Akiachak, Alaska, who are seeking to revitalize the Indigenous model of Restorative Practices in order to decrease the number of Yup’ik youth who are involved with the justice system and who are at risk of educational failure. The Yup’ik group already have funding for one of the trainers.
Uplifting Indigenous Based Restorative Practices
IBPR Consulting | Arthur Argomaniz and Jose Gutierrez
Los Angeles, CA
Indigenous Based Restorative Practices runs workshops, trainings and community talking circles on a volunteer basis at no cost to communities, schools and organizations across Southern California with predominantly black and brown and low-income populations. They focus on topics including restorative and transformative justice/practices in the home, school, community or organizing spaces, decolonizing mental health and uplifting the native/indigenous roots of restorative and transformative justice/practices.“ We follow indigenous traditions and teachings handed down from our Maya Lenca and Mexika ancestors and Toltec, Lakota, Zuni, Huichol and Purepecha teachers. Our goal is to uplift the sacredness and spirituality of each person that we work with. As people of color, we also understand that we are the experts on our own issues and use our lived experiences with gang violence, drugs, machismo and prisons to speak, teach, and walk with those in our circles. Institutions have failed our communities and our work sets the blueprint for positive and grassroots alternatives.”
Project Safety Net
Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation | Abby Abinanti
The Yurok Tribal Court has established Youth, Adult and Family Wellness Courts and a Re-entry Court. Safety, treatment and recovery for those involved in substance abuse is critical to these courts. Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribal Court, writes, “It is our mission to return to the pre-invasion values of our people, to our community/village values, but we understand that many of the practices of those times need to be revised to meet today's problems.”
Girls Restorative Justice Diversion Program
SOUL Sisters Leadership Collective | Wakumi Douglas
SOUL Sisters Leadership Collective plans to use the grant to implement a Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC) program targeting girls and non-binary youth of color, from low-income backgrounds, who are offenders and victims of crime. Their RCC project aims to address violence and repair harm caused and suffered by girls and non-binary youth of color through crime. The aim of this program is promote the healing of girls of color who are survivors of crime and to divert youth offenders from the criminal justice system and reduce recidivism. The RCC achieves healing by giving victims an opportunity to be heard; to have their suffering/pain acknowledged and recognized; to have their questions answered; to develop a sense of safety; to hold the perpetrator accountable; make things right; and address the impact of the crime. This approach diverts them from the adversarial criminal justice system which can set them on a path of homelessness, unemployment, drug abuse, criminality, incarceration and re-incarceration.
Prince George’s County Community Conferencing Program
Key Bridge Foundation | Dana Cole
For six years the Community Conferencing Program (CCP) has partnered with the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) in Prince George’s County, Maryland to divert low-level offenses committed by youth from juvenile court. CCP also partners with Prince George’s County Public Schools, the county’s State’s Attorney’s Office, and the community at large to provide community conferences free of charge to its resident youth. Prince George’s is a majority Black/African American county, with a large Latino population. The program is led by an African American woman and a Latina woman, and its volunteer facilitators are residents of Prince George’s County. In addition to facilitating community conferences, CCP facilitates circle dialogues for schools, community groups, and youth in detention centers. The program trains a minimum of four new volunteer facilitators each year, and hosts quarterly day-long training sessions for its volunteers and other facilitators in the Maryland community conferencing network wishing to enhance their facilitation skills.
Restorative Justice Diversion Project
Raphah Institute | Travis Claybrooks
The Restorative Justice (RJ) Diversion Program serves youth (under 18) responsible for low-level felony harms and those who have been harmed by them. While our youth may have been arrested for the harm caused, they have not yet gone through the traditional court process.
We use Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC). RCC is an evidence-based, restorative approach to resolving harm and finding justice. It is a highly supported and coordinated, in-person conversation between youth who have caused harm, those whom they have harmed, and their impacted communities. In the RCC process, all parties work together to understand the impact created by the harm, understand the historical trauma associated with the harm, and create a plan that supports the juvenile's transformation as they work to repair the harm according to the victim's stated need.
H.O.L.L.A!'s Healing Justice Movement
How Our Lives Link Altogether! | Cory Greene
How Our Lives Link Altogether!(H.O.L.L.A!) co-facilitated over 60 healing-circles with youth of color (mostly in NYC). They developed a self-reported youth-community assessment to better understand youth of color experiences with systems of oppression and interpersonal community harm and received over 400 self-reported assessments. This 3-year project led them to identify a goal of purchasing Black land. “The funds will assist us in researching, traveling and continuously building the relationships needed to support securing a sacred piece of land. Black land represents a transitioning back to nature, to our ancestors, that is missing from our healing praxis here in NYC. It also represents a commitment to a future of self-determination, and passing on a legacy to family. It represents a start for reclaiming generational wealth and health.”
Healing for Formerly Incarcerated Communities
Asian Prisoner Support Committee | Ben Wang & Eddie Zheng
For some formerly incarcerated Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) and indigenous communities, healing practices of redressing the soul have been stripped away or appropriated through trauma and colonization. This project will attempt to reclaim and reimagine some of these healing traditions in the formerly incarcerated community. The Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC) will use API and indigenous healing practices that are led by formerly incarcerated leaders in their respective communities in 1) Healing sessions to address trauma and PTSD for formerly incarcerated community members 2) Development of a healing resource guide and 3) Advocacy for cultural healing practices.
Bed-Stuy Human Justice Initiative
Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions | Divine Pryor
The Bed-Stuy Human Justice Initiative runs a pre-booking police arrest diversion pilot designed to impact institutional culture shift in law enforcement, infrastructure for equitable community partnership and workforce development, and decarceration by ending the mass arrest of youth of color. Their philosophy is to pursue Community Empowerment, System Realignment and Individual Transformation simultaneously.
Power California | Crisantema “Crissy” Gallardo
Central Valley, CA
99Rootz is working to build a transformative youth organizing movement in California’s Central Valley. The name alludes to the 99 highway that is considered the backbone of the Central Valley and connects small farmworking / prison-boom towns on the “prison corridor.” 99Rootz has opened two new youth centers in these rural communities. The centers are by and for young people of color, intersectional, safe, unapologetic and celebratory. Their goal is to promote healing wholeness, political education and ethnic studies, in service of both policy change and healing of intergenerational trauma. They develop the political education, leadership and youth organizing skills of young people 15-24, most especially those impacted by unjust immigration, education, and incarceration systems. This year they will launch two new campaigns, one for safe drinking water, the other towards ending school push-out.
Bonafide Life | David Cowan
San Francisco, CA
Bonafide is a supportive community of people impacted by incarceration who help restore each other as full participants in the community by building healthy, productive lives. Bonafide envisions a world in which people recovering from incarceration are able to pursue the same opportunities and quality of life as those who have never lost their freedom. We work to achieve this by ensuring that people affected by incarceration have the material, emotional and advocacy support they need to both integrate into society and build healthy, productive lives going forward. Bonafide contributes to this movement by formalizing and strengthening the natural support network that forms between formerly incarcerated people, investing in activities that build lasting friendships, develop confidence, and reinforce healthy habits to help people impacted by incarceration to achieve their goals.
Because Black is Still Beautiful | Marilyn Jones
Just Say Know, a program of Because Black is Still Beautiful, is a culturally affirming, gender responsive pilot program that is designed to promote academic engagement among criminal justice impacted Black women or those at risk. There are two components to the JSK program: educational outreach, and monthly student support groups and educational mentorship. Although JSK targets criminal justice impacted Black women, all criminal justice impacted women are welcome to participate. “We are well received by our participants due to the fact we directly relate to their culture, experiences, and speak their language. Our clients' ages are intergenerational, ranging from 18-63.”
Street Youth Rise Up
Young Women's Empowerment Project | Dominique McKinney
The Street Youth Rise up Campaign (SYRU) is a youth led project that focuses on changing the ways in which Chicago institutions and service providers see and treat homeless, home-free and street-based youth who do what they have to do to survive. SYRU serves LGBTQ, GNC and cisgender homeless, home-free, and street-based youth of color throughout the Chicagoland who are involved in the street economy. Their project uses harm reduction, transformative justice, peer-to-peer outreach, youth leadership development, healing and peace circles, participatory action research and grassroots policy change to hold institutions accountable. They plan to use this grant to help them recruit and train 10-15 street-based young people to assist with street-based peer-to-peer outreach, conduct a new research project and provide trainings to service providers across Chicago. They will provide on the spot support and resources as well as youth led support groups and healing circles to other street-based youth.
Jo Power Collective
Rethink | Karen Marshall
New Orleans, LA
Rethink’s mission is to support young people of color in New Orleans in becoming thoughtful and capable leaders through the process of rethinking their experiences and taking action to make systemic improvements. The Jo Power Collective works alongside youth as they navigate the criminal injustice system and the arbitrary discipline systems at their schools. This grant will go towards funding formerly incarcerated Black youth organizing against criminalization and towards transformative justice. They intend to train a collective of youth organizers in Participatory Defense and Transformative Justice so that they can sustain the work within Rethink and share their knowledge with youth organizers outside of New Orleans.
Transformative Justice Training Institute
Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective | Mia Mingus
The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC) are a group of queer, migrant, disabled, gender non conforming, indigenous, people of color who organize for Transformative Justice (TJ) towards ending child sexual abuse. As survivors and as people who have caused harm, they understand and know at first hand the importance of transforming justice and reimagining healing collectively. They want to advance and formalize their educational work as well as their hands-on skill building 'labs' into a Transformative Justice Institute. Their work centers communities of color and prioritizes indigenous and people of color leadership. Through having resources towards a TJ institute they can cater their work to reach focused communities, i.e. youth, migrant and disabled communities.
Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence
Spring Up | Nastassja Schmeidt and Lea Rothman
Spring Up is a small and powerful South Florida-based organization cultivating a culture of consent and liberty for all, offering trauma-informed popular education around consent, gender, gender based violence and transformative justice for youth and community organizers. Spring Up team members have been holding transformative justice based accountability processes around sexual and gender based harm for young folks, queer folks, and organizers in South Florida. In doing this work we have found that there are many more cases than we have the capacity to address, and a gap between anti-sexual violence organizers who do not have the tools to respond to instances of sexual harm in their communities without relying on the state or punitive methods and trained RJ circle-keepers who do not feel equipped to handle sexual harm cases. Spring Up is therefore hosting a month long Transformative Justice for Gender Based Violence class for organizers, youth consent educators, folks who have participated in accountability processes, and RJ practitioners to skillshare and learn the tools to hold accountability and healing processes specifically around gender based violence cases. In addition in the cases we hold, we find that the roots of sexual and gender based harm started earlier in folks' lives and could be addressed with consent and healthy relationship education integrated into communities as a strategy to transform South Florida into more of a consensual culture. As a result Spring Up is hosting a four month Consent Fellowship for youth leaders to learn about gender based violence, consent, transformative justice and facilitation to become consent peer educators and hold conversations in their communities with their peers.
Let Us Heal: Community Safety
Project Hajra Collective
Project Hajra is a membership based, peer supported, and transformative justice initiative working out of their local AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South/Central Asian) community in Queens, NYC. Project Hajra sees the root cause of gender injustice as power; connected to state and other regime violence. Their work is currently internal—mapping resources, deepening care work with each other toward ending interpersonal and state violence, alternatives to current systems and support for those who have experienced harm and harmed others. These funds will support facilitation, mapping of resources and peer education, collective child care, collective care work and particularly a core group of active members to resource themselves and heal themselves from multigenerational trauma.
Networks, Convenings and Collaborations
Somali Americans for Transformative Justice
Ummah Project | Saciido Shaie
There are more than 50,000 Somali people living in Minnesota, 11,000 of them in the 18-25 age group, most of whom reside in Hennepin County. As Black Muslims, they suffer from persistent Islamophobia, hate crimes and racism. In 2016, over 31 Somali Americans aged 18-25 living in the Twin Cities were trained in mediation and restorative practices influenced by Somali and Islamic practices. Funds are needed to establish the group’s own website; and to convene community members, activists and system partners to host a conversation around what transformative justice means for the American Somali community; host ongoing conversations over the course of one year in multiple parts of Minnesota; summarize the information and recommendations; and host community conversations in other parts of the region for additional input and support including: Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Just Practice | Mariame Kaba
On April 26-27, 2019, dozens of people will gather together at Barnard College in New York City to discuss how to work with and support people who cause harm to others. Specifically, some of the questions to be considered include: 1. How do we accompany people who have caused harm as they work to make amends for hurt they have caused? 2. How do we prevent future violence? 3. How do we center the needs of survivors while holding the truth that we do not have all of the resources of the state at our disposal at the moment? 4. What do we do when people do not want to take accountability?
This convening which will take place over two days is timely in light of the current conversations about the #MeToo movement. The "Building Accountable Communities" convening will take place over two days. The first day brings together 50 restorative and transformative justice practitioners for skill-sharing about community accountability, restorative and transformative justice. The second day is a public facing day that will include panels, plenaries and workshops. The grant will be used to cover travel costs for participants to attend the skill share for those who need support and to cover food and access costs for the convening. We will document some of the learning that happens during the convening through video and in writing.
Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance
AMOR | Arely Diaz
The Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR) emerged after the 2016 election sparked a rise in violence targeting immigrant, Muslim, Black and brown, and LGBTQ+ residents. When the state is the root of violence, vulnerable populations cannot expect safe responses from governing institutions. To fill this void, five Rhode Island grassroots organizations formed AMOR. "This grant will allow us to commission an organization focused on restorative justice models to train our organizers in restorative and transformative justice. Collaborating with the selected organization, we hope to integrate community accountability processes into the scope of our mental health services and develop a curriculum on restorative and transformative justice specific to Providence and its communities."
George Carter III Restorative Justice Learning Exchange
The Alliance for Educational Justice | Jonathan Stith
The Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ) is a national movement-building alliance of 30 youth-led and intergenerational grassroots groups across 12 states and 14 cities. AEJ requested the grant to support the George Carter III Restorative Justice Learning Exchange, which would build the capacity of 6-8 AEJ organizations and between 12-20 youth leaders (ages 14-21) seeking to deepen their praxis as restorative justice practitioners, cultural workers and community healers. The Learning Exchange would convene youth leaders and staff from AEJ membership organizations in 1 or 2 cities for multiple days to skillshare best RJ program and personal practices, cultivate transformative relationships as a community of practice and be introduced to somatic healing practices. After the learning exchange, the tools and thinking developed will be synthesized into workshops and action kits and disseminated through the Alliance and its networks.