Chicago Beyond today announced a $450,000 investment in JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to de-carcerating the United States by educating, elevating, and empowering the people and communities most impacted by systemic racism. The investment will support a pilot program that will build a strong bench of formerly incarcerated (FI) and directly impacted (DI) individuals who can make meaningful change in their community and beyond.
Too often, criminal justice policies and attempts at national reform do not center those impacted by the carceral system. These gaps create missed opportunities for DI individuals to create and implement effective solutions for reform. JLUSA has recognized the need for an approach that centers those who have experienced the criminal justice system, which equips and enables them to be leaders who drive change based on the integrated needs they know exist in their community.
Over the course of two years, and with the support of Chicago Beyond, JLUSA will create a pilot program that invests directly in people who have experience with the criminal legal system through training and technical assistance, mentoring, and capacity building.
Chicago Beyond’s investment also includes two-year grants that will be given to five local leaders making a difference in their communities through their work. JLUSA will provide the five leaders with hands-on training while supporting them in their community-based work that is helping to advance comprehensive racial equity and economic mobility within their communities.
“Our partnership with JustLeadershipUSA embodies a transformative shift, placing the voices and experiences of those who’ve been affected by the criminal justice system front and center,” said Liz Dozier, Founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond. “We’re committed to providing tools, resources and support for those who were formerly incarcerated and to continue to advocate for change across the country.”
The pilot program will begin by recruiting local leaders who have direct experience of the criminal legal system to attend a two-day, in-person Emerging Leaders™ (EL) training on leadership, advocacy, and policy, with a specific focus on the issues directly impacting Chicago, and who also will be eligible to apply for the grants.
The grant awardees will participate in two EL Training Programs, EL Intensive workshop, and a trauma and self-care healing retreat. The EL Training Program will include various workshops and events focused on leadership, communications, policy, fundraising and grant writing, nonprofit board development, and operations. Awardees will also meet monthly with an Executive Coach assigned by JLUSA. The objective of these learning events and coaching sessions is to equip participants with the tools to build and lead a movement for justice in the Chicagoland area.
“JustLeadershipUSA is so excited to be partnering with Chicago Beyond to develop a deep bench of justice-impacted leaders to continue the fight for criminal justice reform in the Chicagoland community,” said JLUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins. “Over the years, we’ve had some amazing leaders from Chicago come through JLUSA programs, and we can’t wait to meet and work with these five emerging leaders to help them reach the next level in their justice work.”
JLUSA is planning a long-term strategic investment in areas where the consequences of the injustice of the criminal legal system, systemic oppression, and historical racism are most keenly felt. In light of this vision, JLUSA plans to spend two years investing in leaders in the Chicago and Illinois area, to grow the movement and capacity of DI leaders, to raise the voices of their communities, to end mass incarceration and systemic oppression.
To learn more about JLUSA’s Emerging Leaders™ training, please visit jlusa.org/emergingleaders. The Chicago EL training is scheduled for February 2024. More details to be announced.