Realizing Youth Justice: Advancing Education, Employment, and Youth Empowerment

Highlights from CLASP’s 2016 youth of color  forum



On June 20, 2016, CLASP held its annual forum on youth of color“Realizing Youth Justice: Advancing Education, Employment, and Youth Empowerment,” cosponsored by Cities United and the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Young Men of Color, highlighted effective policies and practices that can help youth avoid the criminal justice system, access employment, achieve stability, build on their innate assets, and realize their full potential.

Disparities in school discipline, juvenile justice involvement, and community victimization are driving far too many young men and women of color into—or deeper into—the criminal justice system. Black and American Indian K-12 students are referred from school to law enforcement at twice their rates in the student population. And youth of color who interact with the juvenile justice system are 35 percent less likely than whites to be diverted. Black, Hispanic, and American Indian young adults are dramatically overrepresented in the incarcerated population. Many of these youth faced significant challenges before their incarceration. Nearly 75 percent of young men and 66 percent of young women who are incarcerated don’t have a high school diploma. Among that group, almost half were unemployed the month before incarceration. All of these young people report traumatic histories and mental health struggles.

CLASP’s forum featured government officials, community leaders, and youth of color discussing practical policy solutions to these transcendent challenges. Panelists discussed how investments at all levels of government in workforce development, education, training, social-emotional supports, and mental health services can help youth of color successfully transition to adulthood.


Welcome and Opening Remarks:

  • Kisha Bird, Director, Youth Policy, CLASP (Washington, D.C.) | @CLASPKisha
  • Olivia Golden, Executive Director, CLASP, (Washington, D.C.) | @CLASPOlivia
  • Anthony Smith, Executive Director, Cities United (Louisville, KY) | @ants012369

Featured Speakers:

  • Roy L. Austin, Jr. Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity in the DPC (Washington, D.C.)
  • Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, Gary, Indiana (Gary, IN) | @karenaboutgary

Panel Discussion: Setting the Context: The Challenge and the Opportunity:

  • Morning Star GaliTribal Historic Preservation Officer, Pit River Tribe (Burney, CA, Iss’Awe Territories of the Pit River Nation)
  • Aaron KirklandPowerCorpsPHL Alumni, City of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Amanda MatosNYC Young Women’s Initiative, Young Women’s Advocacy Council (New York, NY)
  • Steven C. TeskeChief Judge, Juvenile Court, Clayton Judicial Circuit, State of Georgia (Jonesboro, GA) | @scteskelaw

Moderator: Allison R. BrownExecutive Director, Communities for Just Schools Fund (Washington, D.C.) | @allisonrbrown

Panel Discussion: From Practice to Policy: Education, Jobs & Healing:

  • Kisha BirdDirector, Youth Policy, CLASP (Washington, D.C.) | @CLASPKisha
  • Juan Gomez, Co-Founder and Director of Programs and Innovation, Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement (MILPA) (Salinas, CA) | @MILPACollective
  • Jamal JonesCo-Executive Director, Baltimore Algebra Project (Baltimore, MD)
  • S. Atyia MartinChief Resilience Officer, Mayor’s Office of Resilience & Racial Equity, (Boston, MA) | @BostonAtyia
  • Clyde McQueenPresident and CEO of Full Employment Council, Kansas City (Kansas, City, MO)

Moderator: Allison R. BrownExecutive Director, Communities for Just Schools Fund (Washington, D.C.) | @allisonrbrown

Closing Remarks:

  • Michelle HenryVice President, Global Philanthropy, JP Morgan Chase & Co. (New York, New York)  
  • Damon HewittDirector, Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color (Washington, D.C.) | @ExecsAlliance