In 2021, the Life Comes From It advisory circle chose 40 new projects from among hundreds of applications to receive grants up to $25,000, with more than $800,000 granted so far. We have also made new grants to dozens of our previous grantees.
This year our grants have been categorized as restorative justice, transformative justice or indigenous peacemaking.
Ho-Chunk Nation is one of eleven sovereign tribes of Wisconsin. Its Trial Court has taken the lead in developing the Peacemaking initiative through training more than twenty individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced with Ho-Chunk tribal lifeways, good listeners, and problem solvers. These individuals are ready to address problems brought forward by Nation families, government, business, and state, county, or tribal agencies.
Honor the Earth is a 28 year old Indigenous organization based in Pine Point on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota. It works nationally in multi-faceted ways on environmental justice, ecological restorative justice and cultural renaissance. This project is about youth and cultural restoration, peacekeeping and conflict resolution, and the restoration of ceremonial healing practices for the Pine Point community, including the return of the Big Drum to Pine Point. This drum was rematriated from the Beloit College museum in 2018 and now awaits a community to bring it back. That entails cultural teachings, well being, songs and ceremony.
The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers come from the Amazon, the Arctic Circle, Asia, Africa, Mexico and the Northwest, Southwest and Midwest sections of North America, 13 women, ranging from their 60s to their 90s, with dozens of grandchildren among them. They are spiritual activists, medicine women, tribal elders and advocates for sustaining indigenous ways of life. For over 16 years they have worked together tirelessly for peace, respect for nature, conservation and recovery of ancestral traditions, the importance of traditional medicine and the preservation of their cultures, through prayers and spiritual and social action.
The Isleta Tribal Court—the Judicial Branch of Government of the Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico—is an established peacemaking program that utilizes traditional, culturally relevant approaches to healing families and children who are affected by substance abuse. The court utilizes Peacemakers to provide mediation for adult clients and as knowledge keepers, to share tribal history, stories and cultural connection to the land and community as a way to strengthen identity and self-worth for their tribal youth.
Ma's House & BIPOC Artist Studio Shinnecock Indian artist, Jeremy Dennis, is renovating his grandmother’s house, formerly a cultural center for their people on Long Island, New York, to recreate that mission and serve a wider BIPOC community center as well.
Mnamaadiziwin, Inc. "Live in a Good Way"
Mnamaadiziwin, Inc. "Live in a Good Way" is directed by tribal members of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa/Chippewa Indians. Paul Raphael, a Peacemaker in the Tribal Court, and JoAnne Cook, Chief Judge for two tribal communities, are part of a team that developed Peacemaking in the community. They are using this grant to provide Peacemaking education and training for four local groups, native and non-native, who are committed to resolving conflict and building community.
Native American Cultural Center/Native American Studies
Stanford University’s Native American Cultural Center is collaborating with national tribal Peacemakers, judges, and other community practitioners to build out a peacemaking curriculum and train a cohort of peer Peacemakers at Stanford. Their goal is to bring peacemaking to the academy nationwide, especially critical now that college campuses are struggling with racial injustice and a pandemic that disproportionately impacts communities of color.
Navajo Preparatory School is a tribally controlled grant school located on tribal lands in Farmington, New Mexico. It provides a rigorous college preparatory program aligned with a rich program of Navajo culture and language. While peacemaking has historically been used at Navajo Prep, it needs to be revitalized. With this grant they will conduct research and learn more about the process to make Peacemaking a regular practice on campus. Eventually they would like to utilize Peacemaking practices for resolving conflict throughout the school community with students, parents, staff and faculty.
New Mexico Kids Matter advocates for the safety and health of abused and neglected children in the foster care system by empowering community volunteers to speak up for them. They have a special interest and expertise in advocating for Native American foster children. They are expanding their use of indigenous peacemaking as a tool for active efforts to prevent kids from entering judicial systems.
Oglala Lakota Children's Justice Center (OLCJC) in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, advocates for children who have been afflicted by child abuse and may be placed in the system at no fault of their own. OLCJC is training peace keepers and expanding their use of peace circles in this work, as authorized by the tribal code.
Pegasus Legal Services for Children provides high quality, free or sliding scale civil legal services to the most vulnerable children and youth in New Mexico. Even with the Indian Children Welfare Act (ICWA), an alarming number of Indian children are still being removed from their families and often their culture. The funding requested here is to develop a network of peacemakers; educate the legal community on peacemaking and have peacemakers available to the court system, as an alternative to the current adversarial system.
Restore Circles has been created by indigenous and Black practitioners of circle to connect circle practitioners to core original teachings and stories to strengthen an understanding of the history of indigenous and people of color's contributions and practices. They are writing a book about the early applications of circle process in the restorative justice field. This is to cast light on the process of appropriation, abuse of power, and erasure of POC contributions to this movement while also codifying original teachings and sound practices for POC practitioners.
The founder of Restoring Peacemaking for Navajo Families is a 24 year old Diné (Navajo) woman born and raised on the Navajo Nation by her maternal grandparents, who taught her traditional Diné values. She is studying law full time at Navajo Technical University and for 5 years has worked with K’é Infoshop to provide mutual aid relief, education, and guidance to facilitate healing and wellbeing of unsheltered Navajo relatives on and off the reservation. She writes, “This work has been preparing me for my life mission. I know I am meant to practice law and peacemaking in the Navajo Nation.”
Tulalip Tribal Court In 2001 the sovereign government of the Tulalip (pronounced Tuh’-lay-lup) Tribes in Washington State took back their criminal jurisdiction from the state. They are increasingly adopting Indigenous Peacemaking approaches as part of a diversion program for lower levels crimes and to process probation cases—400 active cases.
Zuni Peacemaking - Christy Chapman
A peacemaker, attorney and sole proprietor born to the A:shiwi (Zuni) people, Chapman is dedicated to bringing back indigenous concepts of peacemaking to her community and beyond, to replace the western adversarial model. She says, “Peacemaking brings creator back to the center in resolving conflict. It places value on our indigenous ways, our traditions, and cultural way of life. Indigenous Peacemaking offers not only a resolution of disputes, but a process toward healing between parties.”
Arlington County / Restorative Arlington aims to infuse restorative justice and restorative practices throughout the schools, legal system, and community of Arlington County, Virginia. They are committed to building a diverse, antiracist cadre of local restorative justice practitioners in order to embed restorative capacity in the County. To do that, they believe it is important to compensate people to learn to do this work. Many RJ programs in the greater Washington, DC, and Baltimore area rely on volunteers, and so are limited to those with the privilege to be able to volunteer. Restorative Arlington is committed to a restorative justice praxis that recognizes and grapples with issues of racial justice, power, and privilege.
(B)MEN Foundation is an organization for Black men created by Black men. BMEN provides workshops and community support to individuals interested in engaging restorative responses to sexual harm, in addition to utilizing preventive and proactive strategies. They believe that all peacemaking skills available are necessary to build healthy communities of black men. Their organizational focus is Black Men of adult age that live in the Greater Boston Area with a primary focus on Dorchester and Roxbury's black communities. They aim to begin and establish this work in the Boston area before expanding to regional and national spaces.
B.R.E.A.T.H.E. (balanced, restored, empowered, affirmed, transformed, healed, and embodied) is a collective of black and brown womyn and girls committed to developing sacred connections and curating sacred space. Through the use of Peacemaking Circle, which is a Native and African indigenous practice which is profoundly relational, it emphasizes and engages young women in building community, stronger bonds, while also benefiting from sisterhood.
Collective Justice, a survivor-led, anti-violence organization in Seattle, Washington, building toward collective wellness and liberation, is currently a semi-autonomous project incubating at the Public Defender Association. They are building up their capacity to launch their own organization. The grant helps to fund healing circles in South King County for the communities that have been the most impacted by structural oppression and various forms of violence.
Esperanza Academy is a tuition-free independent girls school serving low-income immigrant students from 5th to 8th grade, and providing mentoring for graduates through high school and college. Restorative justice is central to the school, both in its practices and in an ethos of love, joy, transparency and trust. The grant from Life Comes From It helps fund their first full-time restorative justice specialist.
The Get Your Stuff Together (GYST) program is dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated youth and adults who reside in northern White Plains and the river towns of Westchester county, New York. GYST helps parolees connect to their community through employment, workshops, mentorship and case management.
Healing Hearts Restoring Hope works with families (typically three generations) and individuals who have experienced violence and/or homicide of a loved one, in Los Angeles, California. They work with survivors and those who committed these crimes in order to bring about the transformative change based in understanding historical, family, and system cycles of violence, and how this contributes to the incarceration of Black and Brown poor people. They are using the grant funds to pay for staff salaries.
The Midwest Center for School Transformation has been teaching and offering restorative and healing practices in educational reform and youth development spaces for years. They work in schools and with school districts, the MN Department of Education, and in teacher preparation spaces at the University of MN. They need a grant to train a current cohort of 15 youth (who are leading other young people in a healing response to police violence and the death of George Floyd) in restorative practices and empower them to be ambassadors in their school communities.
My Brother's Keeper 617 (MBK617) is a nonprofit based out of Dorchester, created to provide mentoring to young men and boys of color in the Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods. It is run by a group of men of color raised in Dorchester, who know both the dark and lovely sides to Boston neighborhoods and came together to make a difference in the community. Everyone there is working for free. They are bringing on a full-time staff person, buying a computer and renting a space for someone to teach a course, taking youth on trips, and holding community events to bring people of different backgrounds together due to massive gentrification in the neighborhood. They are also expanding their existing youth entrepreneurship program.
In 21 years of collective love and struggle, the poor, unhoused, disabled, Black, Brown, Indigenous leaders and cultural workers at POOR Magazine, and now Homefulness (their poor-people-led residential solution to homelessness), have never called the police. Key to this commitment is their elephant circle, a poor, indigenous people's accountability circle that roots them in the knowledge that any real safety comes from their interdependence. They are putting together a book that records what they have learned, and plan to offer trainings, and to develop a Poor People's Response Team that can respond to harm that happens in encampments without involving the police that could be deadly or lead to incarceration.
The Restorative Justice Partnership began in 2014 as a collaboration between racial justice organizations, teachers’ unions, and educational institutions as a way to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately impacts students of color. They are doing this by strengthening restorative justice implementation in Denver, CO specifically and using what they learned there to develop free, accessible resources to assist school communities throughout the country.
Shadetree Multicultural Foundation is a Los Angeles based youth mentoring and community development organization serving to support healthy transitions of young people into adult life paths. They create and support rites of passage and self-development initiatives in many communities.
South Carolina Restorative Justice Initiative (SCRJI) South Carolina has an incarceration rate of 754 per 100,000 people, well above the national average. The state’s legacy of slavery and Jim Crow remains ingrained in its institutions and culture. The state is fertile ground for restorative justice but is often ignored by larger actors focusing on places with big metropolitan areas. What has been missing is a support network that can equip providers with the knowledge and resources to confidently begin integrating restorative practices into their own work. SCRJI serves to fill that gap, connecting the already widespread desire with usable tools to make it happen.
The Dispute Resolution Center, building on a 35-year history in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties, Michigan, is acting on a unique opportunity to partner with an incoming Prosecutor who is already working toward creating diversion programs with the center. Together they are executing restorative justice models for juvenile, criminal, and felony offenses. This is a chance for real systemic change and to see the inequities and charges toward African-American men and women decrease.
Drawing on restorative justice models from around the world, the Restorative Center
has led hundreds of restorative justice circles and many trainings across the country since its creation in 2015. A volunteer organization, they are ready to make the jump into a salaried workforce. They are building on their national influence with more conferences, academic lectures, media publications, the creation of a restorative justice law journal and a national Restorative Justice Institute to educate and train the next generation of restorative justice leaders, while serving as a home space for the organization.
We Are Better Together - Warren Daniel Hairston Project was founded and is led by women who have lost loved ones to homicide and/or incarceration. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the project’s mission is to connect and heal women and girls affected by homicide and incarceration to prevent the cycles of violence and victimization by creating healing circles. They are developing a pilot program to support women engaged in their healing and leadership programming who are formerly incarcerated, and/or have loved ones who are incarcerated, to more effectively navigate and advocate within the criminal legal system.
YES! The ReStorying Justice Jam brings together activists, advocates, academics, storytellers, practitioners, people impacted by the criminal legal system who feel called to transform it. “By sharing our stories with each other, we “restory” the narrative of conflict, wrongdoing, and justice in this country. We create opportunities for self-awareness and self-reflection, community-building, and visioning towards systemic change.”
The Anti Police-Terror Project is a Black-led, multi-racial, intergenerational coalition that seeks to build a replicable and sustainable model to eradicate police terror in communities of color in West and East Oakland and other communities of the Bay Area. Its project MH First is a cutting-edge new model for non-police response to mental health crisis. The goal of MH First is to interrupt and eliminate the need for law enforcement in mental health crisis first response by providing mobile peer support, de-escalation assistance, and non-punitive and life-affirming interventions, therefore decriminalizing emotional and psychological crises and decreasing the stigma around mental health, substance use, and domestic violence, while also addressing their root causes: white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism.
Conflict Resolution Institute of Louisiana is a nascent organization founded by diverse, local mediators and restorative justice practitioners that have pioneered transformative conflict resolution programs and processes for the past decade. No other organization in Louisiana provides free conflict resolution services as an alternative to calling the police. Their driving focus is to offer restorative frameworks of conflict resolution. This funding will lay the groundwork for them to hire paid staff for their all-volunteer run organization. The grant will also allow them to begin offering limited services while in the process of garnering sustained support for operations.
Detroit Justice Center By doing an ecosystem scan of restorative justice, transformative justice and peacemaking in the metro Detroit area Amanda Alexander found that practitioners were working in silos, needing connection with each other. In the last year a collective of 30-40 practitioners, community members, returning citizens, lawyers and judges have begun collaborating to promote restorative justice as a means to abolitionist ends. They have a survivor story-telling project, are working with domestic violence shelters on an RJ pilot, and have many ideas in the works.
Families for Justice as Healing is the only organization in Massachusetts led by formerly incarcerated women and directly affected women. The organization's policy priorities are diversion, decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, dignity for incarcerated women, and preventing new jail and prison construction. They are using the grant “to fund block-by-block organizing and transform harm hubs in neighborhoods with the explicit goal of meeting the needs of the most directly affected Bostonians; interrupting harm and transforming relationships to heal; and stopping the flow of our people into jails and prisons.”
Future Media Now TV is a social media portal focusing on conscious transformation of tribal youth (on and off reservation), near the cities of Taos and Espanola, New Mexico (tribal communities: Santa Clara Pueblo, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris Pueblo and Taos Pueblo). They are using media to amplify stories about how they are using restorative grief circles, and working to transform interpersonal violence in the context of conquest, colonization and oppressive power dynamics that have shaped understandings of justice.
Reclaiming Our Own Transcendence (RooT) is a Black and Brown, queer, grassroots led initiative in response to sexual and interpersonal violence. In 2017, RooT began offering support to survivors using a transformative justice lens to address acts of harm instead of using punitive measures. Their flagship Healing Cycles of Harm program responds to violence by providing a structured 9-week collective healing and self-accountability experience for people who have caused and have been impacted by interpersonal and sexual harm. They are currently running the 4th and 5th cohorts of the program. The work is in high demand. This grant covered the cost of one cohort.
Virginia Anti-Violence Project works to address and end violence against and within diverse LGBTQ+ populations across Virginia. The organization works to focus on its most marginalized stakeholders while they navigate trauma and their intersections of identity. VAVP believes that those who are most affected by an issue are more appropriate to readily identify challenges, solutions and investments, and hold each other accountable for the outcomes.