CURYJ in the face of 2020

3 min readDec 19, 2020


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 meals with our partners at Super Juiced Oakland, Cocina del Corazón, and Mandela Partners
  • Providing technology and digital training including laptops and wifi hotspots
  • Doubling the number of youth in the Homies 4 Justice paid youth internship while keeping 100% retention and 85% attendance rate (help us recruit for the next cohort!)
  • Providing holiday gifts to participants and all the youth in their household with our partners at Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
  • Giving out over $85,000 in community grants with Oakland Unite to support healing and safety in East Oakland
  • Directly supporting families fighting for police accountability and Indigenous activists being wrongly persecuted for the removal of a monument to hate and genocide
  • Reaching over 5,000 voters and completing 60 phone banking shifts
Homies 4 Justice graduation: Omar, Edith, Paula, and Kevin with Cristina and Fernando receiving their certificates and holiday gifts from us and our partners at Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

This year has also seen a lot of personal growth from our staff and our team is growing. Our bittersweet update is that both Daniel Mendoza and Juan “Ikon” Tapia have moved on from CURYJ to new opportunities. Both Daniel and Ikon have been part of CURYJ since they were teenagers and have made us what we are today.

Daniel and Ikon are forever part of the CURYJ fam

Some of our staff’s accomplishments are:

  • Xochtil Larios our Youth Justice Policy Advocate received a Soros Justice Fellowship to expand her work doing peer to peer mentorship for youth who are currently incarcerated in Alameda County
  • Daniel Mendoza received the prestigious Brandon Harrison Visionary Award from The California Endowment
  • Cristina Flores our Program Associate who came to us as a Homies 4 Justice participant is now a full time employee with us supporting both Homies 4 Justice and Dream Beyond Bars programs
  • J Vasquez began taking on policy work and is now our Participatory Defense & Policy Coordinator
We renovated our Fruitvale Community Garden allowing us to hold socially distant sessions outdoors. Thanks to our friends at Planting Justice as well as Last Ones and Oakland Unite for the mural.

This year has made clear that communal care is at the heart of our work. When we show up for another — to keep us housed, fed, and safe — we succeed in the meaningful work of investing in the strength and healing of our community.

To support our work you can give a tax-deductible gift to CURYJ. Your support will allow us to continue to stay grounded in our work and respond to the needs of our community.

Amanda Majail-Blanco supported by Leo Mercer after the CHP murder of Erik Salgado; photo by Stephen Flynn

Thank you for being a part of CURYJ’s 2020. We appreciate how you showed up. Let’s end strong and continue the fight in 2021!


George & the CURYJ family

#WeKeepUsSafe #DreamBeyondBars




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