In 2020 the NACRJ Mini-Grant program had been placed on hold as we sought additional funding. A generous donor provided funding needed to reopen the 2020 Mini Grant program, and we were able to award grants to seven remarkable applicants. Last year was difficult year for all of us, so it is with great pleasure that NACRJ was able to award Mini-Grants to seven outstanding individuals and organizations. Every day their work advances the field and helps to realize our motto "Shaping Justice for the 21st Century".
Please join us in congratulating all of the 2020 NACRJ Mini-Grant Recipients for their exceptionally unique work promoting safe, just and equitable communities. Award recipients can be viewed here.
2020 Mini-Grant Recipients (awarded Spring 2021)
Amplify RJ (Pico Rivera, California)
Title: “This Restorative Justice Life” Podcast Expansion
Project Leader: David Ryan Castro-Harris
Description: “This Restorative Justice Life" podcast features RJ practitioners, circle keepers and others doing similar work about how this way of being has impacted their lives. This podcast is a platform dedicated to teaching Restorative Justice philosophy, practices, & values through a lens of abolition, anti-racism, and de-colonization. “This Restorative Justice Life” has had guests like Sheryl Wilson, Cheryl Graves, and others doing this work in the criminal legal systems, schools and communities. Exposing more people to restorative ways of being is likely to lead to more curiosity about the work and a desire to learn more. This expansion aims to increase the restorative justice community's ability to teach people these ways with fidelity and integrity, contributing to the transformation of individuals, relationships, communities and systems through prevention, repair, and deep healing of harm. The podcast is available at thisrjlife.buzzsprout.com.
Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Title: Restorative Cities InitiativeTM: Philadelphia Adult Restorative Justice Model
Project Leader: Pablo Cerdera
Description: Over 700+ Philadelphians experienced arrest since the civil unrest that occurred in response to the murders of George Floyd and Mr. Walter Wallace, and other injustices during the summer of 2020. The people impacted the most were neighbors: residents, business owners, workers, and volunteers from neighborhoods. Thanks to the work of a cadre of progressive Philadelphia public and private lawyers, this restorative model has been introduced in Philadelphia to foster a formal community-inclusive response to the harms done. Participants who complete this program will have their charges dropped and their criminal records expunged, plus an opportunity to contribute to the restoration of fractured relationships amongst their neighbors. The Philadelphia Adult Restorative Justice Model addresses the harms experienced by many inter-connected neighbors, and offers a socially constructive approach that addresses conflict, crime, injustice and all forms of harm while also building the power and social capital of neighborhoods.
Cook County MN Restorative Justice (CCMNRJ) (Grand Marais, Minnesota)
Title: Cook County Restorative Justice Project and Peacemaking Practices Training
Project Leader: Inger Andress
Description: This project provides facilitator training for Victim/Offender Conferencing and Peacemaking Practices. In collaboration with the Grand Portage Chief Tribal Council, it brings restorative practices to the underserved community of Grand Portage. Training in Restorative Justice and Peacemaking Practices directly serves five prospective Grand Portage facilitators, along with ten Cook County community citizens who receive training. Ultimately, these facilitators will provide the Grand Portage community (est. population 684), and with the remainder of Cook County (est. population 5,376) with Victim/Offender Conferencing (VOC) and Peacemaking Practices.
Community Mediation Center of Calvert County (Prince Frederick, Maryland)
Title: Let's Talk About It: Student Voices
Project Leader: Sheri Tardio
Description: This project is a collaboration with the students and staff of Calvert High School (CHS) in Calvert County, Prince Frederick, MD. The Community Mediation Center of Calvert (CMCC) currently partners with CHS to facilitate restorative conversations to support students and staff in dealing with racial conflicts within the county, state, and more broadly - the nation. Advisory lessons allow students to think about and discuss issues that affect them and their school community. This project builds upon the work that CHS has already begun, and empowers students to exercise their voice in designing advisory lessons, facilitating discussions, and producing videos for use within lessons and subsequent community conversations. Trained mediators/facilitators work with a group of CHS students to train them in basic group facilitation and restorative dialogue skills, assist them in developing curricula for the CHS advisory lessons, and create videos to address issues that they see as important to bringing understanding and equity to their school and community.
First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor Restorative Justice Group
(Washtenaw County, Michigan)
Title: Support for Formerly Incarcerated Restorative Justice Facilitators
Project Leader: Mary Lynn Stevens
Description: The Restorative Justice Group of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor (UUAA) recruits and supports formerly incarcerated persons being trained as facilitators for victim-offender conferencing and peacemaking circles. Drawing upon cases from a citizens' task force and cooperation of the Circuit Court and the Public Defender's Office, as well as the Washtenaw County Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), the county is driving a strategy for restorative justice expansion. An explicit goal is diversification of facilitators to include people who have been incarcerated. Returning citizens of Washtenaw county, by virtue of their younger age, greater racial and gender diversity, and their experience with the criminal justice system, will have an advantage of credibility and relatability with those who tend to be younger, male, and of marginalized identities. By providing formerly incarcerated individuals financial support for professional training in victim-offender conferencing and circle-keeping, this project ensures that this county’s implementation of restorative justice will be truly transformative.
Motus Theater (Boulder, Colorado)
Title: JustUs: Formerly Incarcerated Women Taking Stories to the Stage
Project Leader: Kirsten Wilson
Description: In 2019, Motus Theater collaborated with the NACRJ Conference to develop autobiographical monologues with formerly incarcerated men and then presented the stories on stage at the conference. Motus Theater is now reproducing the successful process with a new project amplifying the voices of formerly incarcerated women of color. “JustUs” supports formerly incarcerated women of color who tell poignant, artfully-crafted stories about their experiences with the criminal legal system, and allows audiences to engage with narratives of formerly incarcerated women. These women have intensive trauma support and learn healing techniques that allow them to recover from their experience of incarceration. The women will share their personal stories on theatrical stages (both live and virtual), at conferences and educational institutions, and in private workshop performances at district attorney's offices. By collaborating with police officers, legislators and district attorneys who read these deeply personal stories on stage with the formerly incarcerated person. When told in this collaborative manner the stories impact people who make those decisions and the public about the nature of the criminal legal system. This approach has previously resulted in policy change throughout the state of Colorado, and will continue to be part of the momentum supporting reforms of the criminal legal system, and increasing demand for restorative justice programs moving forward.
Restorative Justice Initiative Westchester (Westchester County, New York)
Title: Police Reform and Reinvention Community Building Circles
Project Leader: Jill Sternberg
Description: The Restorative Justice Initiative Westchester (RJIW) and The Westchester Coalition for Police Reform (WCPR) offers restorative community building circles to our municipalities as a safe space to host conversations about police reform and reinvention, and to identify what communities need going forward. The initiative focuses on communities most negatively impacted and targeted by police. RJIW facilitates the restorative community building circles, and WCPR participates in the circles sharing their experiences of working for police reform. These community building circles provides a space where community members advocating for greater police accountability and transparency, and police and local officials can begin to form relationships that will enable them to hear each other's stories around safety and the harms they have experienced as they strive to create safer environments. The circles are a step toward healing the harms of centuries of racist policing, and open the way for structural shifts in how communities and police interact.