Ella Baker Center on the Move

Recently, I had the honor of traveling to Washington DC to attend a legislative briefing at the White House. I was honored to discuss effective, on-the-ground strategies to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and repair the economy with leaders from many sectors. 

The core of what I shared with the Obama Administration was the need to reverse the trade-off our nation has made between education and incarceration. We've wasted billions of dollars on prisons and detention centers that rob youth and families of a bright future. Together, we can change this.

As we head into 2013, the Ella Baker Center will embark on the next stage in our organization’s history. Starting now, our efforts will focus on reducing our country’s incarceration rate by 50% over the next 10 years.

Yes, this is a huge goal. But it is also a huge moment for our nation. A moment where we need to decide who we want to be as a country. Do we want to remain the global leader in incarceration? Or do we want to reclaim the lead in education, innovation, and opportunity- those things that have made us great?

As we expand our organizational focus, the Ella Baker Center will build on our track record of closing youth prisons and winning much-needed reforms to the justice system by working with elected officials, communities, faith and business leaders across the country to reduce incarceration and detention of youth, adults, and immigrants.

Right now, we need your help to expand to states and communities where we can have the most impact and reverse the tradeoff between incarceration and opportunity -- once and for all. In 2013 we aim to:

  1. Close the three remaining youth prisons in California. We will continue to demand that decision-makers invest in education and opportunities for youth.
  2. Launch a new, national Books Not Bars affiliate program that engages communities and organizations across the country to reduce incarceration.
  3. Expose and challenge the political special interests who block critical criminal justice reforms, putting their paychecks over safe and thriving communities for youth and families.

None of this -- or any of our past successes -- is possible without you.  People power continues to be the most crucial ingredient to the success of the Ella Baker Center.  We need you more than ever to invest in our work, to answer our calls for action, and to speak up loudly for books, not bars.

Together, We can take crucial steps towards a more just and equitable world in 2013 and beyond.