Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice interrupts cycles of violence and poverty by motivating and empowering young people who are impacted by the criminal justice system to make positive change in their lives and become the community leaders of today.
Since 2011, CURYJ has been building community relationships and mobilizing young leaders to organize and create in the movement to end mass incarceration and youth criminalization. CURYJ was born when our co-founders, who lived through the impacts of systemic violence and incarceration, set out to beautify their neighborhood, engage youth in the area and coordinate pro-bono legal defense for local defendants in the Fruitvale gang injunctions.
As defendants and supporters of those targeted by the gang injunction, the five co-founders became powerful advocates at the state capitol and locally, speaking on issues impacting boys and men of color. Early in the journey, CURYJ formed coalitions and partnerships to repeal Prop 21, successfully ending gang injunctions in California and initiated the Aztlán Beautification Movement (ABM) to spread culture and healing art in the streets of Oakland.
What had been created went far beyond defeating the gang injunctions, and CURYJ became a family, a safe place and a platform for building community. CURYJ has created opportunities and programming for youth to build their own futures and transform community through culturally rooted healing, relationship building and systems impacted youth-led activism.
Recently, CURYJ youth have galvanized people power by organizing to pass Prop 57 (Co-authored by CURYJ) which ended direct file of minors in California. CURYJ is a local member of the Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County and leads the California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice which is made up of partners from across the state uniting to stop youth incarceration.
Through our youth programs, life coaching, policy organizing and restorative retreats and trainings, we are building the world we believe in, where relationships matter and young people from all backgrounds are valued and supported in community.
Every Young Person is a Blessing
At CURYJ, we believe that every young person has a sacred purpose, so we work to facilitate youth in discovery and embrace of their stories, talents and contributions within community instead of isolation and criminalization of their circumstances.
There are three ways we fulfill this value:
- Promote and Elevate Youth Art and Talent
- Provide Holistic Youth and Leadership Development Programs (including meaningful and well paid employment opportunities)
- Politically develop and empower youth to create their own solutions
For Us By Us
We strive to benefit Oakland natives struggling against the mass policing and gentrification of our communities. We know that systems impacted youth and young adults are the experts on the issues affecting their own lives and must be involved in developing the policies that affect them. We are formerly incarcerated and systems impacted leaders dedicated to providing training and technical assistance to elevate youth voice and power.
Our programs and practices do the following:
- Lift Up Formerly Incarcerated Leadership
- Galvanize Community Power to Remedy Unresolved Trauma
- Build Self-sustaining Communities & Self Determination
La Cultura Cura
We operate from the abundance of wisdom that our ancestors left us. CURYJ believes that our culture cures, so we hold circles, practice rituals and preserve teachings, knowing that restorative justice lies within our ancestry.
Here are some ways we curate a culture of resistance, balance and compassion at CURYJ:
- Promote and Train Community in Transformative and Restorative Justice
- Challenge Dominant Narratives with Black and Brown Solidarity
- Create Ecosystems of Wellness and Community Through Food, Art and Education