Community Message: Zero Youth Corrections Action Committee Announces Grants to Two Milwaukee Organizations Through Groundbreaking Participatory Budgeting Process
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The Zero Youth Corrections Actions Committee announced combined funding of $396,000 for two local organizations – Paradigm Shyft and Your MOVE MKE – to work on projects that prevent youth from being harmed or reoffended in the criminal justice system.
The funding announcements are a direct result of Milwaukee County’s first participatory budgeting process, an emerging practice that allows community members to participate in decision-making and budgeting processes.
“The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is proud to be a partner in this participatory and collaborative budgeting process. Over 300 community members said what was needed to keep young people out of the prison system and both projects were decided by a committee of community members. These beneficiaries are grassroots programs that have a direct impact on youth at risk of entering the system and on those returning home after the system. We are honored to support their work! said David Muhammad, deputy director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services.
The Milwaukee County Zero Youth Action Committee met with hundreds of county residents in a series of forums, including seven public sessions with youth, activists, community leaders and affected families, and two meetings with youth currently incarcerated at the Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center.
Members of Milwaukee County’s Zero Youth Corrections Action Committee created fundraising guidelines based on community feedback to identify local organizations best suited to keep youth from being impacted by the criminal justice system.
“The best ideas come from communities. That’s why the Public Welfare Foundation is excited about Zero Youth Corrections’ approach to funding programs and developing partnerships,” said Public Welfare Foundation President Candice C. Jones. “Community organizations like Paradigm Shyft and Your MOVE MKE are developing promising solutions to help young people stay out of the prison system – it’s time to give them the investments they need instead of putting more resources into physical investments .
Wisconsin’s criminal justice system disproportionately impacts black, brown, immigrant and native youth. The ZYC wants to see this change in Milwaukee and is putting in place processes for the community to lead the work of reimagining youth justice. The funding will be used to help create innovative solutions to keep young people from being impacted by Wisconsin’s criminal justice system, including interactions with law enforcement and the mass incarceration system.
Emilio De Torre, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Turners, said, “The opportunity to work collaboratively with hundreds of other Milwaukeeans on solutions to youth incarceration has been incredibly rewarding. We look forward to learning and continuing this process in the future, and elevating it as a model to be replicated nationwide.
The Zero Youth Corrections Action Committee is made up of representatives from the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Children, Youth and Family Services, Milwaukee Turners and the Public Welfare Foundation.
The total amount of funding awarded for this cycle is $396,000. Looking ahead, $400,000 is the current cost to keep a youth for a year in the Department of Juvenile Corrections. The Zero Youth Corrections Committee recognizes that $400,000 is only a fraction of the investment that needs to be made to create systemic change in youth justice and reduce racially disparate impacts. By joining in this first step, the Committee hopes to promote increased funding for local youth programs and catalyze investments from system and community partners.
Learn more about this grant at milwaukeeturners.org/zyc.
More information on the two funded groups:
Paradigm shift – Will receive $200,000 to work with Milwaukee BIPOC youth specifically to prevent interaction with the criminal sanctions system, and those who are identified early after interacting with the system or who are arrested for a crime that does not require a long prison sentence – with a focus on possession of firearms.
Your MOVE MKE – Receive $196,000 to support programs designed to help break cycles of poverty, trauma and prevent youth from being impacted by the criminal justice system; replace them with positive cycles of prosperity, strength and healing through hip-hop and art to teach youth and young adults critical thinking and life skills.