Grantee Announcement

For more information contact:
Nona Richardson

For Immediate Release: Monday. November 6, 2017



Nine Organizations Around the U.S. Receive Funding for Two Years To
Help BYMOC Heal, Grow and Thrive in the Face of Chronic Stress and Trauma

PHILADELPHIA – Forward Promise, a national grant making program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), today announced grant awards totaling $3.15 million to nine organizations across the United States that are helping boys and young men of color (BYMOC) heal, grow, and thrive.

This first round of grant-making entitled, Empowerment Projects, will support organizations that provide culturally-relevant and evidence-supported responses to trauma for BYMOC in schools, health systems, juvenile detention, and community-based settings. These organizations help BYMOC overcome the effects of systemic and historical trauma linked to discrimination, oppression, dehumanization and prolonged exposure to violence, poverty and other forms of toxic stress.

“We’re excited to partner with these nine organizations to help them lift up and advance some of the best practices that use culture to address the impacts of trauma on the mental, emotional and physical health of BYMOC,” says Howard Stevenson, director of Forward Promise, based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. “Our goal with this first funding round is to help programs and organizations move beyond just providing services to strengthening relationships with institutions and systems that work directly with youth. We want to help shape and eventually spread effective interventions that integrate culturally-responsive healing practices to mitigate the effects of excessive suffering.”

A key element of the Empowerment Projects initiative is focused on helping organizations build their capacity to use storytelling to promote BYMOC resilience and healing, particularly giving youth of color the opportunity to tell their own stories. “Stories are a critical way to change a narrative, especially when they are told by people who live the experience,” says Forward Promise Deputy Director Rhonda Bryant. “Story telling can challenge perceptions, get people to think differently and help make the humanity of boys and young men of color more evident and real.”

The Forward Promise National Program Office is supported by a $12 million investment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. RWJF Senior Program Officer Maisha Simmons says these Empowerment Projects will help build up the needed evidence on the great burden that trauma, violence, and adversity imposes on the health of BYMOC.

“It’s great to see such a diversity of groups representing so many different focus areas to help us build up the evidence for what works when it comes to mitigating the effects of persistent trauma on young men of color,” says Simmons. “We’re looking forward to learning along the way and sharing these practices so that we make an important contribution to the field of trauma-informed care.”

The following organizations have been awarded grants under the Forward Promise: Empowerment Projects initiative:

Amistades – Tucson, Arizona
Amistades is a Latino non-profit community development organization committed to providing culturally responsive services, advocacy for social justice and community empowerment. Amistades will help young Latinos explore their Mexican heritage and create a positive cultural identity to thrive in Southern Arizona.

Asian Counseling and Referral Service – Seattle, Washington
Asian Counseling and Referral Service promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities – including immigrants, refugees, and American-born – by developing, providing and advocating for innovative, effective and efficient community-based multilingual and multicultural services. Asian Counseling and Referral Service will use the grant to strengthen its storytelling programs, evaluation, and communications & advocacy efforts.

Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ) – Oakland, California
Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice works to interrupt the cycles of violence and poverty by motivating and empowering young people that have been impacted directly and indirectly by the criminal justice system to make positive changes in their lives and prepare them to become the community leaders of today. Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice will use the grant to strengthen its healing-centered programming and restorative-justice approaches to help young people of color thrive in Alameda County, Calif.

Deep Center – Savannah, Georgia
Deep Center helps young people connect their learning to their lives and their lives to their communities. Addressing the detrimental effects of poverty on literacy and healthy development, Deep Center challenges young people to engage with language and their stories through writing, reading, and performance.

Drexel University, Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice (CNSJ) at the Drexel University School of Public Health works to promote health, nonviolence and social justice through trauma informed practice, research, professional development, and advocacy for policy change. CNSJ will strengthen its culturally-based healing practices and storytelling programs.

Fathers and Families Research Resource Center – Indianapolis, Indiana
Fathers and Families Resource/Research Center works to build a noble legacy of fatherhood – assisting fathers in achieving self-sufficiency and in strengthening families to improve the life chances of children. Fathers and Families Resource/Research Center will strengthen their culturally-based healing practices and storytelling programs to help young African-American fathers and expectant fathers thrive in Indianapolis.

Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
The Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a healthier, stronger community with an emphasis on HIV and related health issues. Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation’s BRADDAH Project will provide high-risk Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Asian young men with the life skills to thrive in Hawaii.

National Compadres Network – San Jose, California
National Compadres Network works to strengthen and re-root the capacity of individuals, families and communities to honor, rebalance, and redevelop the authentic identity, values, traditions and indigenous practices of Chicano, Latino, Native, Raza and other communities of color as the path to the honoring of all their relations and lifelong well-being. National Compadres Network will use the grant to strengthen its ‘La Cultura Cura’ approach in developing youths to become the next generation of Latino community leaders.

Native American Community Academy – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Native American Community Academy works to engage students, educators, families, and community in creating a school that will prepare our students to grow from adolescence to adulthood and begin strengthening communities by developing strong leaders who are academically prepared, secure in their identity and healthy. Native American Community Academy will strengthen its culturally-based healing practices and storytelling programs.

Learn about our grantees here.