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The Latest from Brooklyn Community Foundation

Advocacy Victory! Mayor Announces Plan to Close Rikers

All across New York City, criminal justice advocates and organizers are celebrating one of the biggest victories in recent memory: the Mayor’s announcement of a plan to close Rikers Island by 2027.

We are so proud to be a part of this victory through both our support for the #CloseRikers campaign as well as for the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, whose research and findings—including in the report “A More Just NYC”—led the Mayor to support their recommendation to close Rikers.

At Brooklyn Community Foundation, we believe investing in the borough’s youth—especially young people from under-resourced communities of color—is the key to achieving our vision for a fair and just Brooklyn

Through our cornerstone Invest in Youth initiative, we are focused on funding youth justice programs that create off-ramps as well as second-chance alternatives for youth involved in the criminal justice system. We are also committed to investing in advocacy and research that can drastically revamp the system.

We know that closing Rikers will have a tremendous impact on our borough—Brooklyn has the second largest population in Rikers, not to mention the families and communities also impacted.

In addition to providing funding to support the Independent Commission, we are proud to be seed funders of the #CloserRikers campaign through a multi-year Invest in Youth grant to JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA). Our support was critical to the campaign’s success, serving as a “seal of approval” for JLUSA to leverage over $500,000 in additional institutional support.

This victory shows the power of advocacy and organizing to accomplish what many thought was impossible just a short time ago. So many of our Invest in Youth grantees have also added their voices to the #CloseRikers campaign, and we salute their role in this victory as well: Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, Brooklyn Defenders Services, Drive Change NYC, Make the Road New York, CASES, Center for Nu Leadership, Osborne Association, Teachers Unite, and Arab American Association of New York!

The journey to closing Rikers will be long, and will require continued investment in criminal justice reforms: ending cash bail, increasing alternatives to incarceration, tackling recidivism through workforce and leadership opportunities, promoting neighborhood-based alternatives to arrest, and raising the age of criminal prosecution in New York State—a battle which we’re continuing to fight in Albany right now.

Our support for the closure of Rikers, and for investing in comprehensive youth justice programs, is stronger than ever. Thank you to all of our partners who made this victory possible—and we look forward to many more to come!

Kaberi Banerjee-Murthy

Vice President of Programs
This victory shows the power of advocacy and organizing to accomplish what many thought was impossible just a short time ago.