Home News Center Press Release: NJJN and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Announce COVID-19 Youth Justice Response Fund Winners

Press Release: NJJN and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Announce COVID-19 Youth Justice Response Fund Winners

May 22, 2020

Washington, DC — Today, the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation announced five organizations set to receive COVID-19 Youth Justice Response Fund grants to decarcerate youth correctional facilities amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.

The grant selection committee is pleased to announce that the Emancipate NC, Legal Rights Center in Minnesota, the Association for the Public Defender of Maryland (APDM), The Gathering for Justice in New York City, and Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project in Philadelphia have been selected to receive funds through the competitive grant process.

In just over a week, nearly forty advocacy organizations from across the country submitted proposals to ensure youth involved in the justice system are served at home rather than being exposed to the dangers of COVID-19 in institutional care.

“We were overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of proposals received in such a short period of time.  It is clear that advocates across the country are working tirelessly to get kids home.  In the end, the committee prioritized projects that demonstrated an opportunity to decarcerate facilities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritized youth voice, and had tangible measures to address their states over incarceration of youth of color,” said NJJN’s Executive Director K. Ricky Watson, Jr.

Learn more about the award winners and their campaigns below:

Emancipate NC, a North Carolina based advocacy organization whose mission is to dismantle structural racism and mass incarceration will leverage the funds to reduce youth confinement by mobilizing and training youth and other directly impacted people in a fellowship program called “The Justice League.” 

Legal Rights Center of Minnesota will coordinate with a coalition of racial justice organizations to review all out of home placements and create an online community resource map to show youth are able to be better served at home.

Association for the Public Defender of Maryland (APDM) will utilize the funds to launch Maryland Youth Rising, a youth-led movement of those formerly incarcerated to challenge incarceration policies. Funds will support youth stipends for training and policy development.

The Gathering for Justice in New York City, one of the regions hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, builds a movement to end child incarceration while working to eliminate racial inequities. With support of the grant, The Gathering for Justice plans to stipend directly impacted youth to participate in the Youth Justice Council advocating for more release orders, resources for reentry, and preventative programs.

In Pennsylvania, the Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project, the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, and Juvenile Law Center are organizing in coalition to bring youth home and advance long-term policy change. Their goals include removing youth from adult jails and prisons, ending the practice of prosecuting youth as adults, and massively reducing the number of youth in juvenile facilities. Funds will support youth in peer-to-peer organizing, action research, court watching, and launching an interactive public awareness campaign.


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.

<- Go Back