Attorney General Phil Weiser awards $500,000 in grants to organizations working to reduce the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’
July 9, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.)— Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that his office is awarding $500,000 in grants to five organizations around the state to promote positive school justice partnerships and address the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Recipients will use these School Justice Partnership Innovation Grants to support programs that provide alternatives to harsh punishment practices like suspension and expulsion, enhance students’ emotional and physical wellbeing, and support youth after they have been released from incarceration to reduce their chances of re-entering the criminal justice system.
Young people in our communities, especially youth of color, face a variety of barriers to success, including disparate rates of incarceration. One important contributing factor to our state’s level of incarceration is the “school-to-prison pipeline,” which disproportionately impacts youth of color. According to the Colorado Department of Education, Black students made up 4.5% of all enrolled children in 2018-19 in Colorado schools, but they accounted for 8% of all school-related arrests, 10.7% of in-school suspensions, and 10.3% of out-of-school suspensions.
“These innovative programs all represent promising strategies for helping students avoid the criminal justice system and, for some youth, transition back to school after being incarcerated,” Weiser said. “We are excited to support the work of our partners and to enable youth—especially youth of color and economically disadvantaged youth—to have a better and fairer chance to set and achieve their goals.”
The following programs are the 2020 grant awardees:
- Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities (Denver)—CHIC focuses on empowering women, girls, and families in the Denver area. While African American boys are the most likely to be disciplined in school, African American girls are also disproportionately suspended and expelled. CHIC works to disrupt dynamics that lead to girls’ school-to-prison pipeline.
- Full Circle Restorative Justice (Salida)—Full Circle Restorative Justice is partnering with the schools in the 11th Judicial District to support the use of restorative justice practices, especially to support students in the area with lower socio-economic status.
- Generation Schools Network (Denver)—This program will combine the expertise of three Denver area non-profits to address youth incarceration and recidivism to provide a layered continuum of support. Citing Colorado youths’ three-year recidivism rate of over 50%, the nonprofit coalition will support newly released youth in their transition back to school.
- Impact Empowerment Group (Denver)—This program directly addresses the fact that students of color are disproportionately suspended and expelled from schools. IEG aims to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by providing a Suspension and Expulsion Alternative Program.
La Plata Youth Services (La Plata County)—La Plata County has significant gaps in treatment and prevention options for youth who struggle with complex trauma and mental health barriers. A team of local stakeholders are now collaborating to reduce the number of youths who move through the justice system through the Therapeutic Day School that provides an alternative placement option, comprehensive care, and access to community services and programs.
Each program will receive a grant of $50,000 per year for two years, with the possibility of an extension for a third year. The grants are made possible through funds the Attorney General’s Office received from past case settlements and judgments.
To learn more about the grant awardees, and the grant process, go to coag.gov/school-justice.
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