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From the Field: Obama Foundation Fellowship Member Harry Grammer, 2013 MA Depth Psychology

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From the Field: Obama Foundation Fellowship Member Harry Grammer, 2013 MA Depth Psychology-Community Liberation Ecopsychology PhD Candidate

The Obama Foundation Fellowship program supports outstanding civic innovators from around the world in order to amplify the impact of their work and to inspire a wave of civic innovation.

Empowering justice-involved youth through arts, education, and vocational programs

The Problem:

L.A. County incarcerates more youth than any other county in the nation, with a 69% recidivism rate. Kids disproportionately come from low-income communities of color and return to over-policed neighborhoods and failing schools that offer no job training or formal community support, ensuring that they go on to overpopulated adult prisons. California has seen a push for youth diversion, including within L.A. County’s troubled probation department—but it needs partners on the ground to lead the way.

The Approach:

New Earth runs poetry, art, education, job training, and counseling programs at L.A. County detention centers, probation detention camps, and group homes, in addition to running a joint charter high school that supports youth from detention, to probation, and beyond. New Earth’s programs have slashed recidivism rates from 69% to 5% for full participants. Begun at an open mic café in 2003, its flagship FLOW spoken-word program has operated in all 14 L.A. juvenile detention centers since 2004, with more than 10,000 L.A. youth taking at least one New Earth course. Now, New Earth has been tasked with turning a former youth detention site into a beautiful, redesigned community-run vocational training center—a major milestone in Grammer’s vision for transforming juvenile detention centers statewide.

My civic hero:

Nelson Mandela

 

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