Young People Don’t Heal in Cages

March 2019

Since 2001, Akonadi Foundation has been an active listener, student, and funder of the movement for racial justice in Oakland and nationally. We began our journey nearly 20 years ago during the fight to stop the passage of Proposition 21, which galvanized thousands of young leaders of color throughout California to demand lawmakers increase investments in education and divest from failed systems of incarceration. While the voters of California passed Proposition 21, a vibrant juvenile justice movement infrastructure emerged. The last two decades of persistent organizing have made possible many criminal justice and education reform victories–yet, there is still much to be done.

In 2018, in addition to grantmaking, Akonadi Foundation spent the year listening–to Oakland’s young people, healing practitioners, policymakers, and to our elders–to best understand how our community partners envision justice for our city. The themes were consistent; Black and brown young people in Oakland deserve a childhood, and Oakland’s young people don’t heal in cages.

Here, in Alameda County, courageous advocates have fought hard for the decriminalization of people and youth of color, winning incredible concessions and victories to decrease youth detention rates, and increase investments in reentry and youth development. While there are fewer children behind bars in our local facilities than in past decades, a higher disparity between the number of white youth and youth of color persists.

In response to what we have heard and learned, we will focus our grantmaking on supporting efforts to drastically reduce the criminalization of people of color in Oakland and Alameda County and to bolster the movement calling for an end to youth incarceration. We will support leaders and formations in Oakland working to make schools places where brown and Black children can learn without the fear of being pushed out, criminalized or policed.

We are excited to continue working with our partners to move justice forward. We believe that a racially just Oakland is possible.

In solidarity,

Lateefah Simon
President, Akonadi Foundation