RISE for Youth to Become Independent Organization
Tim Wallace, Director of Development, Legal Aid Justice Center
Valerie Slater, RISE for Youth Campaign Coordinator
Richmond, Va., June 12, 2018 — After three years housed within the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), RISE (Re-Invest in Supportive Environments) for Youth (RISE) will take formal steps over the summer toward becoming an independent organization. RISE for Youth is a non-partisan campaign in support of community alternatives to youth incarceration. Since its launch in 2015, RISE has been an active and influential voice for juvenile justice reform in Virginia. Placing youth activism at the center of its efforts, the campaign has successfully advocated for both the closure of the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center and the reinvestment of the funds used to operate that facility into community-based services while opposing the building of new juvenile prisons. Valerie Slater, RISE for Youth Campaign Coordinator and a recent fellow of the National Juvenile Justice Network’s Youth Justice Leadership Institute, will take the helm as Executive Director of the new organization, with support from juvenile justice organizers Rebecca Keel as Policy Director and James Braxton as Strategic Engagement Director.
During the transition, RISE will operate under fiscal sponsorship until the campaign core is incorporated. LAJC Executive Director Mary Bauer said, “We’re thrilled that RISE has grown to the point that this transition is possible. The campaign has achieved unprecedented youth-led victories in juvenile justice reform over the past three years. It is deeply gratifying to see this investment result in the creation of a new, sustainable community-based asset.”
After transitioning into fiscal sponsorship, RISE for Youth will continue engaging community members and justice-involved youth to plan the next phase of its juvenile justice advocacy work. Ms. Slater explained, “Years of community engagement, educating and activating allies, and local and state level legislative advocacy have helped put our communities’ voices front and center, making our opposition to the outdated youth prison model and support for community-based alternatives seen, heard, and accounted for. This next step will help RISE for Youth grow and adapt to allow for even greater community collaboration in our work.”
After the transition, LAJC will continue to push for juvenile justice reform in Virginia. Rachael Deane, Legal Director of the JustChildren Program, said, “JustChildren has a twenty-year history of successful advocacy on behalf of low-income and justice-involved youth. We look forward to continuing that advocacy and to partnering with RISE for Youth to ensure that Virginia continues to invest in proven, community-based alternatives to youth incarceration.”