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by Fernando Vallejo

In March of 2020 I had just joined CURYJ to lead the Homies 4 Justice (H4J) program, a paid internship for 14–18 year olds to learn grassroots organizing skills to stop the criminalization of Black and Brown youth. I was excited to be working with Cristina Flores, a former H4J participant, who was just brought on full time to help run the program.

We had just launched with a brand new cohort of 20 new interns, and we were all excited to see what they could accomplish. Then the pandemic hit. …

Chris Quiej is 18 years old, lives in Oakland, and is a 2020 Dream Beyond Bars Fellow

During the pandemic, the health guidance from officials has been clear: we are safer at home. That’s the advice for the elderly, students, people who work in offices…But for system-impacted youth? For us, it’s youth jails and prisons with poor ventilation; solitary confinement or crowded dorms and common areas; and policies that put us and our family in danger of contracting the virus.

Christopher Quiej

State legislators and the Governor can protect vulnerable kids throughout this crisis and beyond by releasing youth and connecting us…

Testimonies written by CURYJ young leaders for the Board of Super Moms action to stop evictions organized by ACCE.

I am 15 years old and I am the middle sister out of two brothers. My mother is dependent on me. I help out my mother on decisions with my family, and every day I am the heart of keeping my family sane. If I fall and don’t get up then my family falls, and stays down.

Board of Super Moms action by ACCE | Photo by Aaron Molo

Once somebody asks what you wish for I would tell you that I wish at the end of the day I could have a bed to lay my whole body on and rest into a deep sleep.

Now it’s Wednesday, October 7th at…

On December 15th the Oakland Police Department released a dangerous statement to create fear and vilify Oakland youth. Using dehumanizing language like “juveniles” and “underaged suspects,” Interim Police Chief Susan E. Manheimer stated that her purpose is to create “alarm” without addressing the causes or offering any solutions.

“We remember this language from the 90’s, it created the hysteria that allowed so many Black and Brown lives to be cut short by mass incarceration,” said George Galvis, Executive Director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice — CURYJ. “Police Chief Manheimer the Oakland Police Department are afraid right now. …

CURYJ and BOP young leaders organized the Black and Brown Unity Rally during the George Floyd Uprising; Photo by Brooke Anderson

2020 has been a difficult year physically and spiritually. It has exposed many of the injustices Black and Brown people face. It has forced us to step up and find new ways to love and support our community. Despite the challenges we at CURYJ have a lot to feel grateful for.

We are grateful that we were able to quickly adapt virtual strategies and continue all of our important work in program, policy, life coaching, participatory defense, and community healing. We leaned into supporting our current and former participants and their families this year including:

  • Distributing weekly grocery and cooked…

By J. Vasquez, Participatory Defense & Policy Coordinator

Peace & blessings and happy holidays!

2020 was a year filled with unprecedented events, including a devastating pandemic, high unemployment, and a global movement for racial justice and police accountability. In the midst of it all, CURYJ is hard at work advocating for local and statewide policy changes that primarily affect Black and Brown communities. We’ve won some amazing battles and we’ll continue the fight in 2021 and beyond.

A big Thanks to everyone who helped us fight against state-sanctioned terrorism, racism, and oppression. Whether you attended a protest, participated in a caravan, gave public comment, phone banked…

By Hayden A. Beaulieu

Hayden Beaulieu visits the California State Capitol for the first time to share his #MeToo regarding his support for SB284

Sacramento is the capital of the world’s 5th largest economy. Things happen in that city that affect everyone- not just Californians. We have the power to set a positive example for other states and nations. The power of the people to invest in youth and their growth and development is the greatest power we have. …

By CURYJ Staff

Video by Manuel Ortiz

On February 23, 2019 the Dream Beyond Bars Fellows came together for what marked the 2019 Dream Beyond Bars Summit: A Youth Vision for Alameda County’s Justice System.

The event was the culmination of over a year’s worth of work by the the Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ) and Urban Peace Movement fellows. This process included multiple focus groups and discussions, over 200 surveys, and community town halls. All of the data collected has pointed to the fact that there is unanimous support for community-based solutions over incarceration.

After finalizing the…

By Xochtil Larios, CURYJ’s Youth Justice Program Associate

This is a piece I did for Hayward High School’s Puente program. During this time in my life I would get kicked out of school for not having outstanding grades in the rest of my classes. It was 2013, and I was 13 years-old.


Purpose is the reason you want to be here! I ask why people, places, or things belong. My specific purpose in this shady ass life is to never change and always stay the same, do everything I can to be happy, but mainly to be me. In my life I want to be somebody better, maybe…

By Daniel Mendoza, CURYJ Community Organizer

I am a young voter who has never felt like the democratic system benefited people like me, or my community, due to issues with the government both locally and nationally. In this day and age I feel like it is important for communities of color to exercise their right to vote, with the help and service of the our local government to pass legislation that benefits the needs of the people. This year there are important potential laws both locally and statewide that will affect people already struggling with expensive rent and divested communities…


CURYJ unlocks the leadership of young people to dream beyond bars.

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