Home News Center NJJN and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Announce a new COVID-19 Youth Justice Response Fund for State-Based Advocates Working to Decarcerate Youth Correctional Facilities

NJJN and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Announce a new COVID-19 Youth Justice Response Fund for State-Based Advocates Working to Decarcerate Youth Correctional Facilities

April 24, 2020
Courtney M. McSwain



Washington, DC — Today, the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation announce the creation of a new COVID-19 Youth Justice Response Fund for state-based advocacy organizations working to decarcerate youth correctional facilities amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. 

Public health experts have repeatedly warned of the dangers of keeping young people in juvenile justice facilities due to the inability of youth and staff to practice safe social distancing. With the announcement of a new COVID-19 Response Fund, NJJN and the Annie E. Casey Foundation are working together to amplify this message and provide critical resources to state-based advocates currently campaigning to get kids released into safe environments.

“We’re facing unprecedented challenges that require unprecedented action. Urgent resources are needed to get as many young people out of detention facilities as possible. Our structure as a member organization with advocates working on these issues across the country puts us in a unique position to know where funding can have the biggest impact quickly,” says K. Ricky Watson Jr.,  NJJN Executive Director. “We are grateful to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for partnering with us to get critical funds into the hands of advocates fighting to get youth released now.”

 NJJN will award up to four grants to support state-based advocacy campaigns that educate policymakers and media about the need for immediate decarceration of youth correctional facilities along with adequate resources and legal protections as youth transition to their homes and communities. Proposals will be considered from independent state based public policy advocacy organizations or coalitions, such as but not limited to those that comprise NJJN’s membership. To be eligible, campaigns must have an explicit goal to reduce the confinement of young people, must be specifically focused on racial and ethnic equity, and must be informed by young people with lived experience in the justice system. NJJN will provide oversight and technical assistance to awardees.

Application is now closed. Further information about award winners is coming soon. 


 The National Juvenile Justice Network leads a membership community of 54 state-based organizations and numerous individuals across 44 states and D.C. We all seek to shrink our youth justice systems and transform the remainder into systems that treat youth and families with dignity and humanity. Our work is premised on the fundamental understanding that our youth justice systems are inextricably bound with the systemic and structural racism that defines our society; as such we seek to change policy and practice through an anti-racist lens by building power with those who are most negatively affected by our justice systems, including young people, their families and all people of color. We also recognize that other vulnerable populations - including LGBTQIA+, those with disabilities and mental illness, girls and immigrants - are disparately and negatively impacted by our justice systems, and thus we also seek to center their concerns in our policy change work.

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