Community Led Research Project 

We want zero youth incarceration and real alternatives from community led solutions led by those most impacted.

Meet our Community Research Fellows below.   

The issue:

Our youth legal system has failed to keep us safe and has instead had a profoundly negative impact on youth and their families.  Nowhere else is this negative impact felt more as in our Black, Brown, & Low Income families. Currently, Alameda County spends about $493,000 a year to incarcerate one youth. Sadly, the true human cost of youth incarceration and family separation stretches far beyond any quantifiable dollar figure.  Alameda County should and can do better to truly reimagine youth justice. This starts with listening to those closest to the issue & empowering them as the true experts with the solutions.  We can’t reimagine youth justice without having  directly impacted youth and families at the table. 

The methods:

On May 31st, we partnered with CERES Policy Research to launch a six month community led research project. We are committed to a transformational approach to research which aims to build leaders and decolonize research. The six month project works with seven research fellows (four Transitional Aged Youth and three family members). This is a participatory research project that empowers our youth and families with the skills and resources to conduct community led research – this includes , gathering data, surveys, testimonials from our impacted communities, base building and community organizing skills. This six month program will listen to the hearts of Alameda County’s most impacted neighborhoods to amplify the change we all seek in our youth justice system.

The Goals:

  • Our Goals are to : Partner with impacted families, and other community leaders to build a shared strategic vision for youth justice; and uplift this vision, with recommendations, through a community-driven research project.
  • Build power with impacted families and youth to influence youth justice in Alameda, strengthen their networks, and organize with them towards achieving Zero Youth Incarceration. 
  • Hold Alameda’s Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council Sub Committee accountable to its commitments by monitoring budget allocations and advocating to reform its practices in line with Zero Youth Incarceration. 

Get Involved

For more information on this project or if you want to participate please contact Sr. Organizer & Advocate Nifa Akosua

Meet our Community Research Fellows

Evelyn Canal: I’m a 21 year-old member-organizer with Urban Peace Movement. An Afro Latina who grew up on stolen Ohlone land or more commonly known as today east Oakland. I’m a proud daughter, sister, Afro Peruana and young scholar. I’ve been in many organizing spaces, such as Oakland Hops, CURYJ, Young Women’s freedom center, Owl & Panther, etc. In my role at these internships I knew I had to take the opportunity to be a part of a movement that would change the lives of my community members. As a formerly incarcerated young leader it is critical that there are voices like mine at the forefront. My late mother instilled in me a passion to help my community and give back. This belief guides my policy work and activism. 

Jadalyn: I’m a 20-year-old young mother here for a purpose, my favorite thing to do is spend family time with my son and family. Go out to do adventurous things and be with mother nature herself, i’m from Oakland Ca I love doing organizing work and helping my community!

Desmond Wanzo: I am from Massachusetts but grew up in Oakland California, I attended Mack in West Oakland and I enjoy playing basketball and soccer to stay active. I like traveling back home to the East Coast from time to time. I’m a mixed kid, who likes to take every opportunity I can to uplift my community.

Barbara Doss: I am the mother of Dujuan Armstrong who was asphyxiated in Santa Rita Jail in 2018. It’s been four years and I am still fighting for justice for my son. I want the officers to be held accountable and I’m dedicated to fighting this fight so other families don’t have to experience this pain. Without the support of the Ella Baker Center, APTP and other organizations I wouldn’t know where I’d be, so I’m here now fighting for justice for all our kids.

Larry: I grew up in Oakland California but I’ve lived all over the Bay Area. I went to Frick Middle School in East Oakland, then later went to Oakland Military Institute in North Oakland from 8th grade to 12th grade. I’ve always been entrepreneurial minded and very creative. Some hobbies of mine include playing basketball, gaming and going to the range with my brothers. I’m open minded and always willing to give back to the community anyway that I can.

Marnae Hazzard: I am 30 years old, I currently reside in Richmond California but I have deep roots in East Oakland. I have a passion for doing hair & as a hairstylist I love making my clients look good on the outside so they can feel even more better on the inside. I’m super excited to be involved in this Community research program with the Ella Baker Center. I’m here to express my thoughts and be a listening ear to others while also giving back to the community. 

Fiani Johnson (The Social Justice Warrior): I’m a mother of four (two biological children, one foster and raising a niece). I’m a last year grad student with a dual degree in counseling and forensic psychology w/special emphasis on trauma. Founder of The Araminta Ross Foundation which focuses on but not limited to connecting formerly incarcerated men and women to services that’ll keep them successful as they reintegrate back into society. By the way, I myself have been formerly incarcerated, I experienced homelessness and have been diagnosed with PTSD due to past trauma. Which is why I’m so passionate about the social injustices faced by men and women of color. So I’m here to represent the underrepresented.