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Community Engagement Strategies to Advance Justice Reform: Implementation Lessons from Buncombe County, North Carolina, Cook County, Illinois, and New Orleans

March 15, 2023

Communities across the nation are wrestling with how to identify and implement effective reforms that reduce structural inequities in the criminal legal system, promote community safety, and right-size operations of the criminal legal system to achieve more equitable outcomes and increased safety. Research suggests the most inspired and transformative solutions to such intractable problems come from collaborative partnerships between policymakers, criminal legal system leaders, and community members.However, many communities struggle with community engagement because of the strained relationships between the criminal legal system and communities that have historically been criminalized by that system or alienated by civic leaders. Fortunately, some communities have made marked progress. The MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) initiative to reduce the use of jails prioritized authentic engagement with community members across its grantees to build trust, enhance problem solving, and promote mutual accountability for justice reform.This report, which is part of a series of case studies highlighting the work of the SJC initiative, examines the community engagement strategies developed and implemented by three SJC communities: Buncombe County, North Carolina; Cook County, Illinois; and New Orleans. This report documents how these sites navigated challenges and advanced tangible reform efforts, and it explores the perceived impacts of these strategies on the sites' efforts to engage community members, reduce local jail use, and implement system reforms that advance equity. We conclude with a discussion of common themes in the sites' experiences implementing those strategies and recommendations for other communities seeking to advance community engagement.Sites used a variety of community engagement strategies, such as conducting listening sessions, hiring people with lived experience of the criminal legal system to organize events, and using art to receive community feedback on public safety.Common challenges from the three participating sites include navigating long-standing mistrust between community members and government, recruitment and retention in community engagement workgroups, and shifting strategies because of COVID-19.Recommendations and lessons learned from the three sites include ensuring proper resources are available to support community engagement efforts; communicating expectations and the likely pace of progress with community members; considering the accessibility of meetings; elevating the voices of people of color directly impacted by the criminal legal system; providing benefits to community members who attend meetings; leveraging technology to engage the community; and ensuring a diverse group of people is engaged.

A Toolkit for North Carolina: Combatting Wrongful Voter Purges

February 15, 2023

When a state or county conducts a program to systematically remove people from its list of registered voters, this is called "voter list maintenance." When done properly, these programs can increase the accuracy of voter rolls by removing people who pass away, no longer live in the state, or have become ineligible for other reasons. However, overly aggressive removal of voters has also become a key strategy for politicians and political operatives trying to suppress the vote. These types of removals can disenfranchise eligible voters, are sometimes unlawful, and are commonly referred to as "voter purges."Wrongful voter purges undermine the right to vote and often target and disproportionately impact voters of color, low-income voters, and young people. In addition, wrongful purges can impact election results, especially in state and local elections decided by a small number of votes.The challenge to combating wrongful purges is that many residents do not find out they were purged from the voter rolls until they are trying to cast their ballot. At that point, it can be too late to fix the problem.This toolkit helps advocates and local leaders:Understand how and when Boards of Elections conduct voter list maintenance and update the voter rolls;Spot and get ahead of wrongful purges; andReport and fight unlawful purges. 

Family Friend and Neighbor Care (FFN) Final Report

December 12, 2022

The purpose of this report is to develop a policy framework and set of recommendations to support Family Friend and Neighbor (FFN) Care in North Carolina. Child Care Resource Center (CCRC), on behalf of the Forsyth County FFN Steering Committee, received a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, to conduct a landscape analysis.Research conducted by Compass Evaluation identified that the majority of children in Forsyth County, over 70%, are served outside the formal licensed child care system, in FFN care. The Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools have reported that 50% of children in the community show up at the school unprepared, according to standardized assessments. In order to gain a better understanding of FFN care as a critical component of the early care and education ecosystem and to strengthen its effectiveness at improving outcomes for children and families, CCRC partnered with the NC Early Education Coalition to research NC child care policies, rules and regulations and their impact on FFN caregivers; learn how other states across the country have formulated policies and programs that are supportive of FFN care, including assessing attitudes, biases and perspectives of stakeholders at the state and local level; and identify systems change priorities for future efforts in Forsyth County.This report provides an overview of FFN care, estimates of the prevalence of FFN nationally and in North Carolina, as well as a summary of research and best practices in supporting FFN providers. The North Carolina Early Education Coalition worked across sectors to ensure that all voices were heard. The team conducted 7 focus groups and key informant interviews with a total of 44 participants, including parents, licensed child care providers, early care and education systems leaders, advocates, and state department leaders in both child development and early education and child abuse and neglect. The purpose of these input sessions was to gain a deeper understanding the attitudes, biases, perspectives, and openness to systems change in North Carolina as it relates to FFN care. Quotes from these input sessions are included throughout the report and the input was used to inform the policy recommendations included at the end of this report.

Investing in the Housing Crisis: An exploration of the North Carolina public pension system's relationship with Landmark Partners and the Single Family Rental industry

December 6, 2022

North Carolina has a corporate landlord problem. Large investors now own over 40,000 single family homes in North Carolina1, squeezing out would-be homebuyers and burdening renters with rising rental costs and prolonged maintenance issues. Some of these corporate rental companies are owned or backed by private equity firms that receive funding from public pension systems, including the North Carolina Retirement System (NCRS). The North Carolina Retirement System has committed more than $3.2 billion to one such private equity firm, Landmark Partners, since 2014. $2.6 billion of these commitments to Landmark have been made since Dale Folwell became State Treasurer and took over responsibility for the pension fund in 2017. No other pension fund has invested more than $500 million in Landmark during the 2017 - 2022 time period.This matters because Landmark is a major investor in Progress Residential,4 the largest single family rental company in the U.S. with over 7,700 homes in North Carolina.

Democracy North Carolina 2020 Voter Turnout Report

July 1, 2022

This report examines who voted in North Carolina during the 2020 General Election, and by what means they chose to cast a ballot. By analyzing North Carolina State Board of Elections data, we identify new and recurring trends with voter registration and voter turnout across ages, racial / ethnic groups, and geographical regions of our state.

Practical Guidance: What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying in North Carolina

May 24, 2022

Bolder Advocacy's Practical Guidance – What Nonprofits Need to Know About Lobbying state law resource series is designed to help nonprofits determine if lobbying rules in their state might apply to their state or local work, and if they do, how best to navigate them!Each Guide Includes:Summary of lobbyist registration and reporting triggers in the stateKey critical takeaways for nonprofit organizationsFAQs – giving practical perspective on how to interact with the state rulesCase study for a hypothetical small student voting rights organizationList of helpful additional resourcesWho are these Guides For?Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations: Leaders and staff of nonprofit organizations that work on (or are thinking about working on) advocacy initiatives at the state or local levelLawyers: Lawyers and compliance professionals interested in working with nonprofit advocacy organizations doing state and local level workFunders: Funding organizations working to ensure strong organizational capacity and infrastructure for the groups they fund doing advocacy work at the state and local level

How Cross-Branch Collaboration Helps States Strengthen Evidence-Based Policymaking

March 10, 2022

Over the past decade, The Pew Results First initiative has worked with 27 states to implement an innovative evidence-based policymaking approach that helps them to invest in policies and programs that are proved to work—ensuring that states moved over $1.1 billion toward more effective services. Although many states have made important gains in evidence-based policymaking, sustaining these efforts can be difficult. Turnover among leadership and staff, inadequate staff capacity to generate evidence, lack of political will to use evidence, insufficient buy-in from stakeholders within and outside government, and an absence of formal procedures between the executive and legislative branches can hinder this work.To overcome these challenges and promote the sustainability of their evidence-based policymaking work, leaders across the country have engaged in cross-branch collaboration, a deliberate effort to create or deepen formal partnerships between executive and legislative branch representatives who use evidence to make budget and policy decisions. This helps to ensure that policymakers in these branches routinely prioritize evidence in the budget process, establish a shared commitment to and ownership of this work across government, and build an ingrained culture of evidence use throughout the decision-making process.Results First has identified three strategies for improved cross-branch collaboration: 1. incorporating collaboration into law; 2. developing diverse advisory groups; and 3. establishing shared tools and processes. Informed by an online review of cross-branch efforts and 30 interviews with executive and legislative branch decision-makers (including legislators and staff, executive agency leaders and staff, and gubernatorial appointees), this issue brief provides a detailed look at how five states (Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, and North Carolina) have implemented the three strategies outlined above, including the challenges they faced and insights they gained.The brief can serve as a resource for policymakers who are looking to advance and sustain the use of evidence in state government through cross-branch collaboration. Although all three branches of state governments perform important and distinct roles in determining and executing policy, this brief will focus only on collaborative efforts between the executive and legislative branches because they are routinely involved in overseeing the state's budget development and implementation.

Investing in Community Violence Intervention to Reduce Gun Violence in Raleigh

February 28, 2022

Raleigh faces a crisis of gun violence that requires city-level investments in community violence intervention programs (CVI). In 2020, 22 residents died by gun homicide and 96 were shot and wounded. This gun violence disproportionately impacts Black residents in Raleigh, who are ten times more likely to die by gun homicide than their white counterparts. Much of this violence occurs within neighborhoods that face systemic inequities and racial discrimination, and it is highly concentrated among small numbers of people who are caught in cycles of victimization, trauma, and retaliation. 

2020 North Carolina Election Protection Report

February 25, 2022

North Carolinians -- particularly our Black and Latiné neighbors -- have always faced an evolving array of barriers that prevented them from exercising their freedom to vote. Last century's literacy tests and poll taxes, used to keep Black and low-resourced voters away from the polls, have evolved into more insidious tactics like complex vote-by-mail procedures, intimidation, and felony disenfranchisement.Each year, Democracy North Carolina and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) work to identify and remove voting barriers. The 2020 Election Protection report documents our work during one of the state's highest turnout and safest elections on record. Central to our report is an analysis of over 13,000 phone calls voters made to our statewide voter assistance hotline (888-OUR-VOTE) as well as from thousands of volunteers (also known as "Vote Protectors"), who observed polling places and helped voters during the 2020 elections.

Extreme Gerrymanderers

February 22, 2022

Gerrymandering is the intentional practice of manipulating the boundaries of congressional districts to provide an unfair advantage for a specific party or group. The practice has increasingly created barriers to representative democracy and allows politicians to select their voters, rather than allowing voters to pick their politicians.New maps that create the boundaries between congressional districts are drawn every 10 years, following each decennial census. In the wake of the 2020 Census, state legislators crafted a number of hyperpartisan and discriminatory gerrymanders. This report highlights a dozen of the worst.

Key Funding Streams to Keep Families Supported, Connected and Safe

February 14, 2022

The Family First Prevention Services Act provides an important opportunity for child welfare leaders to support families with Title IV-E funding. However, Family First is just one piece of the puzzle.Developing an array of services to meet family needs requires child welfare leaders to understand funding that is administered by other agencies and to work across sectors to support a broad range of services.This quick, four-page brief highlights federal funding streams that can support a continuum of services to prevent children from entering the child welfare system and foster care. It also shares examples of how communities are leveraging such funding streams at the local level. 

The Opportunity to Dream: How an Early Learning Network Implemented the Liberatory Design Process

December 21, 2021

This resource is a case study created in partnership with the Friday Institute's PEER team, entitled "The Opportunity to Dream". The study focuses on the impact of the TIP Early Learning Network's third cohort and their use of the Liberatory Design process in promoting equity and opportunity for underrepresented groups. The study highlights the positive outcomes and benefits resulting from the implementation of the Liberatory Design process, specifically in the work of Edgecombe and Wake's prototypes. The case study serves as a valuable reference for those interested in understanding the impact of using the Liberatory Design process as part of the TIP Early Learning Network.