Justleadershipusa Gains Support From The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative To Continue Work Aimed At Reducing The Prison Population Nationwide

September 19, 2017



September 19, 2017

CONTACT: Jennifer Fermino 646.734.0320 | jfermino@fenton.com


This support is a vote of confidence in JustLeadershipUSA and its founder Glenn E. Martin, and allows the successful New York-based nonprofit to expand its innovative criminal justice reform model nationally, following success of its #CLOSErikers campaign.

Sept. 19, 2017 – The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced a grant to JustLeadershipUSA, Inc. (JLUSA), as part of its efforts to support and learn from organizations engaged in proven or promising advocacy work to reform the criminal justice system.  David Plouffe, who leads the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s policy and advocacy work, shares his enthusiasm for collaborating with JLUSA and organizations that are leading creative and impactful work that puts the people most affected by challenges, such as high incarceration rates, at the center of their own solution-making.  Plouffe states, “Learning new and creative advocacy techniques from these and other organizations will make us more effective and help us to have a greater impact on issues around science, education, housing, and criminal justice reform.”

JustLeadershipUSA elevates the voices of those closest to the problem — Americans directly impacted by crime and incarceration — to be the drivers for fair and inclusive policy reforms by helping build their leadership capacity, membership organizing, and advocacy efforts.

“When formerly incarcerated people are at the forefront of policy reform implementing solutions and driving change, they also have an opportunity tell their stories. Their stories change hearts and minds by showing where they have come from, what they endured, where they are now, and what they can do in the future,” said JustLeadershipUSA Founder Glenn Martin.

JustLeadershipUSA is a New York-based social justice advocacy organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA is focused on applying bold, innovative solutions to old problems, investing in long-term impact, engaging in lifelong learning, and elevating people closest to the problem as experts closest to the solution.

JustLeadershipUSA Founder and President Glenn E. Martin, previously incarcerated for six years, built the organization on two principles: the belief that there needed to be an organization that led with the voices and leadership of people who are most harmed by our criminal justice system; and, the belief that there needed to be at least one organization that made bold pronouncements as to what we should be doing as a field to reform the criminal justice system and as a country to humanize folks in the system.  Martin birthed the organization as a furtherance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s work, and the efforts of the people who participated in the civil rights era. Martin states,

“I knew that the only way to really change our broken criminal justice system was to have those directly affected by it leading the charge, and I am so grateful that this vision is being recognized.”

In under two years, JLUSA has shifted the narrative on closing Rikers Island from being a fringe concept to a mainstream idea through a series of collaborative and strategic actions.  Key elements of the campaign include investing in people who are most harmed, leveraging post-incarcerated leadership, convening a diverse range of local stakeholders and community partners, and delivering and teaching organizing expertise to community members.  The support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will help to provide JLUSA with a tremendous growth opportunity to continue progress in efforts like the #CLOSErikers campaign while organizing new efforts in more communities.  Martin explains,

“The #CLOSErikers campaign proved that if we maintain constant and intense pressure on decision makers and use the powerful stories and images that our organizers can provide, we can reshape the way our nation views and treats its broken criminal justice system.”

Over the coming year, JLUSA plans to grow its staff size, open new offices, and invest in developing the leadership capacity of formerly incarcerated professionals from across the US, grow its national membership, and support grassroots criminal justice organizations whose mission aligns with JLUSA.