Seven nonprofit alliances and organizations have been selected as the first recipients of the National Girls Initiative’s Innovation Awards, a program designed to spotlight and support creative efforts to advance systems-level juvenile justice reforms for girls.

The National Girls Initiative (NGI) was launched three years ago by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)  to drive new resources to state, local, and tribal efforts to address girls’ needs, and to share information on evidence-based practices that are trauma informed and gender and culturally responsive. NGI also works to elevate the voices of girls and their families as partners in reforming the juvenile justice system. It is a collaborative effort of both American Institutes for Research (AIR) and The National Crittenton Foundation (TNCF).

“Girls are disproportionately arrested, formally processed, detained, and incarcerated in the juvenile justice system for offenses that pose little or no threat to public safety,” said Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, president of The National Crittenton Foundation and co-director of the National Girls Initiative. “NGI is a reflection of commitment to ensuring that when girls come into contact with the juvenile justice system that it is rare, fair and beneficial. There is much work to do and we are committed to getting it done.”

Support for the seven recipients comes from a mix of government and philanthropic funds.

In February 2015, NGI announced the availability of $325,000 for Innovation Awards to nonprofit applicants in one or more of three areas of focus to: 1) Advance changes in policies and programs designed to meet the unique needs of girls in the juvenile justice system; 2) Prevent and reduce the arrest and detention of girls; and to 3) Develop or implement gender and culturally responsive, trauma-informed and developmentally-appropriate approaches to delivering services.  NGI received 77 proposals seeking more than $7 million. Of those 77 proposals, three award recipients were selected that will focus on the first two areas:

Through the generous support of the NoVo Foundation, four additional sites were funded as a part of this first cohort of NGI Innovation Awardees. These awards focus on the provision of effective gender and culturally-responsive, trauma-informed services.

The awards were made to:

  • Education Law Center – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA – Unlocking Possibilities: Education Collaborative for Black Girls
  • Southwest Key Programs – Austin, San Antonio, and Laredo, TX – Mi Hermana’s Keeper: A Promising Practices Toolkit for At-Risk and System-Involved Latinas

“These incredible projects show us that we can work together to reimagine our juvenile justice system, and that at every step, girls and their families should lead the way,” said Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation. “They are living proof of our potential to advance transformative, systems-level changes that offer girls a better path forward while simultaneously strengthening our communities.”

NGI will support the work of the seven Innovation Award sites through the provision of training and technical assistance, a peer-to-peer learning network, and the on-going provision and development of resources and tools. Resources and tools provided to award sites will also be made available to other organizations dedicated to the needs and potential of girls in, or at risk of entering, the juvenile justice system.

National Girls Initiative, funded by the OJJDP and operated through a partnership between American Institute for Research and The National Crittenton Foundation, focuses on catalyzing change for girls in, and at risk of entering, the juvenile justice system through the provision of training and technical assistance. Learn more about the National Girls Initiative.

The NoVo Foundation is dedicated to building a more just and balanced world. Founded in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, NoVo has become one of the largest private foundations in the world to support initiatives focused explicitly on girls and women. Learn more about the NoVo Foundation.