What We Do?
Structural Well-Being Framework ©
BI believes centering community to establish self-directed solutions is critical to achieving transformational change and better life outcomes. All too often communities of color are not engaged in the design and/or implementation of the solutions necessary to achieve their own well-being. As such, sectors have repeatedly failed to make impactful sustainable change.
BI has worked in hundreds of jurisdictions nationally in support of local efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities. Through these efforts, BI realized the significant limitations of the traditional ‘harm reduction’ methods of system reform. Over the years, BI’s innovative methodology has evolved to move beyond traditional justice reform, by addressing the longstanding structural inequities with a cross-sector approach to design and achieve structural well-being for all people.
BI defines structural well-being as a system of public policies, institutional and inclusive practices, cultural representations, and other norms that work to strengthen families, communities and individual well-being for positive life outcomes. This notion is in direct contrast to the nation’s current operational framework of structural racism. In order to achieve racial justice we must dismantle the evil genius of structural racism, and replace it with a structural well-being frame to provide families and communities what they need to thrive, namely, a sense of belonging, a sense of community, and equitable access to the resources necessary for positive life outcomes.
Our place-based approach involves identifying and assessing the viability of local sites to overcome the challenges that historically have stalled equity reform efforts in most jurisdictions. This work engages local jurisdictions ready to take a journey, supported by the BI, to transform public safety by examining the social determinants of justice.
BI’s process requires an intentional cross-sector process whose values are steeped in services, restorative practices and humanity rather than custody, control and suppression. Thus, a well-being approach addresses the justice sector AND non-judicial public systems such as education, health, child welfare and housing etc. into the process, informed by community voices and those directly impacted by the justice apparatus as fully engaged authentic partners.
Critical to this work, is the willingness of cities and counties to engage in a process to collect, analyze and use data that correlates the intersection of services to families across sectors. This requires trust and transparency with regard to budget allocations and service delivery approaches. In this regard, BI challenges jurisdictions to participate in an inquiry about how racial hierarchy exists in the administration of justice and join us in our journey to imagine better safety outcomes for communities. To deconstruct how structural racism operations in local jurisdictions, we engage four major issues:
1) Negotiating the long-held principle that justice is colorblind and race-neutral thereby negating the necessity to address policies and practices that reflect racialized social control.
2) Investment in communities that most populate the justice sector is outside the justice sector’s purview. Community disinvestment is a structural issue larger than the justice sector can handle alone, requiring political solutions that public systems cannot control.
3) Government is not structured to promote flexible cross-sector responses to complex human services problems that involve safety.
4) It is difficult for elected and appointed officials to share power with each other and communities most in need of human service interventions.
BUILDING STRONGER CONNECTIONS
COMMUNITY & NETWORK ORGANIZING
While BI believes that centering community to establish self-directed solutions is critical to advance change, we also believe in strengthening and building the local community infrastructure that is necessary to support and sustain these efforts long term.
The Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY) is a national network of over 125 community-based programs, grassroots organizations, service-providing agencies, residential facilities and advocacy groups that build the capacity of community organizations to develop effective and culturally appropriate interventions for youth of color and poor communities. BI and a cadre of partners work to support, elevate, organize and create spaces for the networks’ shared learning, networking, healing and strategy development.
The Credible Messenger Mentoring Movement (CM3) is an initiative that works to advance impacted community capacity building and justice transformation via two key bodies of work. First will be the establishment of a national credible corps – designed to recruit, develop, prepare and credential local cadres of credible messengers to engage justice-involved youth, families, and communities in transformative mentoring; while partnering with justice systems to advance transformative justice policies and practices. Second will be the development of a technical assistance and training consultancy, designed to provide preliminary and real time guidance to local jurisdictions interested in engaging in credible messenger mentoring work. BI works with key partners to develop, incubate and support the movement.
BI collaborates with other youth justice advocates, community-based organizations and base building organizations around California and nationwide to advance policy reforms that promote well-being; promote equity and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.
BI’s state legislative work is centered in California, where we are headquartered. We have co-sponsored or contributed to the passage of a number of important California bills and budget measures to limit the harms of the justice system and reinvest in communities. BI helps local stakeholders use data to inform their strategies and decision-making as they work to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities and promote equity. We identify and develop creative ways to increase the accessibility of data to organizers and those directly impacted by the justice system. Our “State of Disparities” websites for the U.S. and for California are two data online tools, each displaying different sources of data regarding youth involvement in the justice system. These online data tools are designed to make youth justice data understandable and available to all those working to make positive change.
TRAINING & FACILITATION
BI works to support local communities, grassroots, non-profits, government agencies and philanthropic partners through a myriad of trainings and offerings designed to strengthen their efforts to advance racial/ethnic justice. BI offers trainings on a variety of curriculums, assessments and facilitation tools, customized frameworks, strategic direction and tool development. BI’s team of skilled facilitators support groups working to advance change. Our facilitation focuses on creating a participatory and respectful environment for groups navigating difficult and sensitive discussions regarding race and ethnicity.
BI provides in depth thought partnership to leaders trying to advance racial/ethnic justice and transformational change. As a thought partner, we engage in sharing ideas, challenging discussions, innovating approaches, co-design processes, navigating complex challenges and strategizing towards change.
BI offers customized leadership coaching support focused on strengthening skills and expertise in racial/ethnic equity and inclusion principles and methods of operationalization to advance initiatives working to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities. Coaching support offers access to a confidential, experienced, third party perspective. This support is designed to increase one’s focus, comfort and confidence in leading with a racial/ethnic justice lens.